Do you remember sneaking downstairs early to see what Santa may have left you? Or, if you were really naughty like me, sneaking into your parent's room to scope out what was coming?
Do you feel the same excitement when your little ones come racing into the room on Christmas morning? The ripping, tearing, and excitement they get up to can be contagious. Unfortunately, it can also really disrupt sleep for a couple of nights before the big event (whatever event it might be!)
It's normal and natural to find it challenging to sleep when we are excited and interested, and curious about what is about to come. However, we can hedge our bets a bit with our children's sleep and try to stack the deck in favour of them getting a few more winks the night before!
Wear them out
Plan a day of activities right before the festivities, preferably outdoors. Braving the weather and doing something in the cool air requires more energy than playing indoors...or sitting on the iPad or Xbox. Festive activities, including putting up more lights, would suit, of course; however, if they are small, going out to the park and bashing around in the puddles a couple of times during the day can give that slight sleep drive edge to help them fall asleep.
Feed them well
A nice meal and a snack before bed may help them have a deeper sleep once they actually get to sleep. If they get up in the night to 'head to the kitchen to get a snack,' you'll know what they are truly up to! You could even head them off at the pass by letting them have a snack in their room just in case they wake up with the munchies.
Clean them up
A warm bath can raise their body temperature a bit and help 'artificially' create the natural body temperature drop that we experience when we fall asleep. It is a small contextual cue that may help. And - it will help them relax and feel cozy and be a great pit stop between the excitement of the day...and the long wait ahead till tomorrow!
Let them bounce
The kids may be so excited it's hard for them to get into bed and stay there. Maybe let the kids stay up a bit longer or get in and out of bed a bit more than usual to burn off that excitement. If they realise that Santa isn't coming the moment their head hits the pillow, they are more likely to relax and get to sleep. If it's a challenge, have them take a bath.
Keep it positive
Face it - you are tired, and it's going to be an early start. Keeping yourself as positive as possible will help the children maintain a quiet, positive attitude toward going to bed. If it becomes a battle, this will fire up their alert radar and make it hard to sleep - and it could contribute to negative associations with the bed and bedtime that could create more problems down the road.
Tracy Hannigan is one of the UK's leading sleep coaches and insomnia experts, running a sleep therapy practice for individuals with insomnia (www.tracythesleepcoach.co.uk)
Tracy uses her background in psychology and her experience as a healthcare professional alongside her CBTI training to help people reclaim their sleep so they can live the active and vibrant lives they want and deserve.
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