T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...except for your hyper, sugar-fueled child.
Understandably, plenty of kids around the world will find it difficult to fall asleep on Christmas Eve in anticipation of a visit from St. Nick – and they'll likely be following his flight path on the Santa Tracker, too. But if they're up all night enjoying sweets and watching movies, they'll be too exhausted to celebrate Christmas Day.
Below are four expert tips on how to help your kids fall asleep easily on Christmas Eve, courtesy of the sleep experts from UK-based mattress store Bed Kingdom. Even if your child sleeps on one of the best mattresses, that alone won't be enough to counter their unbridled holiday excitement. Here's what you can do...
Why help your kids fall asleep on Christmas Eve?
Per a spokesperson from Bed Kingdom: “Spending Christmas with the family is something that many of us look forward to all year, but having little ones around makes it that little bit more special. However, it can sometimes feel as though there’s nothing to prepare them for bedtime on Christmas Eve, resulting in a restless night’s sleep."
Much like adults, children who don't get enough sleep are prone to moodiness, cognitive problems, and listlessness, among other adverse effects. For kids who stay up late on Christmas Eve, it could result in a not-so-merry Christmas Day for them (and possibly their families, too).
Following the expert tips below will ensure your kid is well-rested and able to fully enjoy the wonder of Christmas.
4 ways to help your kids sleep on Christmas Eve
1. Don't drastically alter their nighttime routine
School-age children need nine to 11 hours of sleep every night. Changing your kid's sleep routine so that they can stay up later on Christmas Eve can leave them exhausted the next morning, especially if they plan on waking up earlier than usual.
Routine is crucial for children's sleep, as things like a bedtime story or washing up can signal to their brains that bedtime is approaching. Drastically altering their pre-bed ritual will remove those familiar indicators that'll remind them to fall asleep.
However, you can celebrate Christmas Eve in a way that won't wreck your child's schedule. For instance, have an earlier dinner to keep kids occupied without getting too excited, or do a countdown up to an hour before bedtime to transition them into their sleep routine easily.
2. Avoid sugary treats after dinner
Christmas cookies and candy canes are sure to be flowing, but if your kid is chomping away on sweets close to bedtime, they'll have a much harder time winding down at night. Of course, you don't have to deprive your child of these treats altogether – just after midday.
Meanwhile, if your little one is looking for a bedtime snack, choose food and drink that'll help induce sleep. That'll be anything rich in tryptophan (a sleep-inducing amino acid) or magnesium – for example, milk, avocado, almonds, and sugar-free dark chocolate.
3. Make sure screentime doesn't overlap bedtime
Your kid may want to stream their favorite Christmas films on the family smart TV or scroll through an endless stream of TikTok videos on their tablet. That's fine, as long as they shut off their electronics two hours before bedtime.
Studies show that screens from TVs, phones, and other devices emit blue light, which suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Using these gadgets too close to bedtime can trick your child's brain into thinking it's still daytime, and they'll have a harder time falling asleep.
You can limit post-dinner screentime by having your family engage in a tech-free (or low-tech) activity such as telling Christmas stories or playing board games.
4. Keep your child active during the day
Your kid is filled to the brim with festive energy, so make sure they channel it wisely. Encourage them to take a walk around the neighborhood or engage in their favorite sport in the morning or afternoon. If the weather isn't conducive to outdoor activity, browse YouTube for kid-friendly exercises that can be done safely indoors.
Either way, an active and busy day will translate to a better night's sleep for your child, as they'll have burned off their energy.
Will these sleep tips help adults, too?
Of course. If you're swept up in the excitement of the holidays, the following tips will help you wind down, too. Beyond that, kids and adults can abide by this advice all year round to help them sleep better naturally.
You can also check out TikTok's top sleep hacks if you're seeking more unconventional ways to squash sleepness nights, although we don't recommend trying these with young kids as these are usually tested by adults.
However, if you're still not sleeping well despite your best efforts to maintain a healthy routine, your mattress could be to blame. It may be time to check out the best after Christmas mattress sales and ring in the new year with a revamped sleep set-up that'll leave you feeling refreshed daily.
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Freelance writer and editor Alison is an expert mattress tester for Tom's Guide, and hails from Philadelphia, USA. Alison has reviewed a wide range of mattresses, pillows and other sleep accessories for Tom's Guide, putting the latest hybrid, memory foam and cooling mattresses from Casper, Nectar, Awara, Brooklinen and other leading brands through their paces. Alison has been sharing buying advice and retail news for over a decade. When she isn't reviewing mattresses, other home products or hunting for great deals to save you money, Alison can be found teaching/training in martial arts, fawning over skincare, and indulging in her quarantine-borne hobby: cooking.