Most parents know that the 24th December is the hardest night of the year to get your child to sleep.
The month-long build-up of excitement reaches its peak and the last thing your child wants to do is lie down and be still.
So how do you help your little one to fall asleep in time for Santa’s arrival?
Read my special Christmas Eve tips below to help you to enjoy a Silent Night and be ready to enjoy the big day.
Make sure that you head into Christmas Eve prepared. Follow my 5 sleep tips for Festive sleep available here, and discover the importance of activity, balance, routine, calm and food for your child’s festive sleep.
Stick to a plan
Planning helps many people (especially young children) to feel more calm and comfortable. It helps them to know what is coming and what is expected of them.
Have a plan for Christmas Eve and give your child a brief idea of the activities that will take place in the run up to sleep. For example you might tell them that you are visit grandparents, watch a Christmas film, put out treats for Santa, and then it’s bedtime. If they know what’s coming they will be more prepared and calm when bedtime approaches.
Stick to your plan and don’t negotiate.
Many children become anxious at the thought of Santa coming in to their bedrooms to fill their stocking whilst they are asleep. And if you think about it, it’s actually quite a strange idea.
Help your child to feel more comfortable by putting elves, treats, stockings and all other Christmas items, in to another room such as the living room or dining room.
Reassure your child that Santa will not come into their bedroom at all and that they are safe to sleep peacefully.
To sleep well your child needs a balance of the sleep hormones Serotonin and Melatonin, which can actually be boosted by eating the correct types of foods.
If your child has too many treats before bedtime, they will feel a sugar rush that will make it more difficult to get them to sleep. This is then followed by an energy crash that will cause them to wake more frequently during the night!
Instead try introducing cherries, apricots or raisins to help natural Melatonin production.
And to boost Serotonin try chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts or milk.
The Christmas turkey is actually packed with tryptophan (an amino acid which helps the production of the sleep hormone Serotonin). It stabilises blood sugar and can actually induce sleepiness. Anyone for turkey on Christmas Eve??
Create the calm
Christmas is an unusual and magical time for children. Nothing is quite the same as it normally is and all of the grown ups seem to be rushed, panicked and stressed. Children quickly pick up on your emotions and if you are stressed or cross, it won’t help to get your child to relax into sleep.
Perhaps you can make a little time to join them for an extra snuggle and cosy up in their bedroom for a short while? Try reading a special Christmas book together. Or simply enjoy talking about their Christmas wishes. Any special time and focus that is soothing, calming and relaxing them ready to sleep.
Your child is only little for a short while. As stressful and busy as Christmas is, do try to enjoy this special time together so that you can remember it with fond memories.
Special note – early starts
It is almost inevitable that your children will wake early on Christmas morning – it’s all just too exciting for them!
Here are some tips that you can use to manage the early start on Christmas morning.
Christmas Morning rules
Some parents agree a special Christmas morning wake up time and leave a clock out for the child to see.
If they can’t tell the time, you could mark the clock face with a pen or marker at the correct time.
Alternatively you could leave a sign next to the clock for them to match up to the clock time.
Other parents stick with their normal house rules and then slightly change the clocks in their house to fit with their normal sleep rules!
Whilst others just embrace the early Christmas morning and then put their child to bed earlier on Christmas night to compensate for the difference.
A word of caution for those parents that use a Sleep clock. If you currently use one with your child you will need to be clever about how to use it for Christmas morning.
If you allow your child to ignore the clock and get up early on that one day, you can’t expect them to follow it on other days afterwards.
One popular technique is to adjust the clock after the child has gone to bed on Christmas Eve, to allow for this one off early wake. Just don’t forget to adjust it back again afterwards or your Boxing Day might start early too!
Hopefully your child or children will drift off to a magical sleep for you, and not start Christmas Day too early.
Most of all, I wish you and your family a wonderfully happy, magical and restful Christmas
Rachael, The Sleep Sanctuary
If you are struggling with your child’s sleep this Christmas, find out how I can help you and your child to enjoy better sleep through The Sleep Sanctuary. Book your free 15 minute chat with me here