6 ways to help the kids go to sleep nicely on Christmas Eve
You've a long to-do list, food to prepare and last minute presents to still wrap, but the children are still awake!
If you're worried this the scenario will play out in your house Christmas Eve, here's some expert tips to help get the children settled in their beds ahead of the big day...
1. Avoid Christmas Eve lay-ins!
If you want the kids to go to bed nicely on Christmas Eve they need to be tired. School and nursery might be out for the festive season but try and avoid letting them sleep in too much despite how tempting it can be to enjoy a few minutes peace and quiet in the morning.
Start the day early so that by the time bedtime rolls around they're ready to sleep. For younger children, limiting any daytime naps can also help.
2. Head outside for some fresh air
Children can be like coiled springs at Christmas time as a combination of excitement and different routines risk wreaking havoc with their behaviour and sleep patterns. One of the biggest tools to getting the kids to calm down on Christmas Eve is a healthy dose of fresh air to tire them out so that they have less energy for swinging from lampshades when they're inside.
A wintery walk, trip to the park, a scooter or a bike ride will all go someway to calming down bedtime hours later.
Sleep expert Ori Leslau from company Kally Sleep explained: “Enjoying time outside during the day goes a long way towards a good night’s sleep, as fresh air makes our bodies produce more serotonin, which in turn leaves us feeling happy and relaxed. We naturally burn more energy when we’re outdoors too (especially in chillier weather) so it’s the perfect way to tire the kids out!”
3. Stick to a routine
This one can be easier said than done around Christmas, but where possible keep a normal routine where you can, particularly with very young children.
If you know bedtimes or mealtimes are likely to fall out of sync chat to your little ones about how the days are likely to be different and how they may run so they know what to expect.
Website Peoplewhosleep.com also suggests that it can be helpful, if they have some concept of time or a bedtime clock to help, to agree a time to wake up and open presents on Christmas Day morning. That will make it much easier to encourage them back to bed should the excitement wake them at 3am!
4. Avoid late-night snacks
One of the best things about Christmas is the food but whilst it is fun to indulge keep an eye on how much sugar your children are consuming particularly close to bedtime. We've all heard of 'sugar highs' and if you think a sweet treat risks sending them scatty let them have it much earlier in the day. Too much sugar risks sending them giddy and will make it harder for them to fall asleep.
Choose a cut off time a few hours before bedtime and avoid offering sweets and any sugary treats after this time.
5. Try a bedtime distraction
Whilst it's tempting to rush the kids into bed so you can crack on with the chores, they may need a little help or a distraction to drift towards the land of nod. An audio book or some quiet music may help distract their minds enough to settle down.
Ori Leslau from Kally Sleep added: “It might well help them to focus their minds on something, rather than laying there attempting to sleep before Santa arrives. Once they’re calm and settled they’re much more likely to nod off naturally.”
6. Switch off the devices and take time to relax
With so many of our social connections now happening virtually we're all on devices more and longer than normal.
But sleep experts at support website People Who Sleep are reminding families that devices close to bedtime can risk ruining sleep as they emit a light similar to daylight to trick brains into staying awake.
Watching a film or playing a board game might be alternative activities ahead of bedtime to help relax and calm children down.
And if all else fails it's definitely worth reminding children that Father Christmas only ever visits when they are asleep...