When we think holidays, it’s often either “busy busy busy” or, “finally, a time to catch -up!”
I am sure you can guess my personal fave, based on the title…
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for family gatherings, time spent with friends, I have an amazing group of loved ones around me that I can’t get enough of, but, I still like to sleep, and so does my family!
Let There Be Sleep…
Our tips on how to maintain sleep over the holidays.
For us adults, it’s an inevitablely a busy time of year, I don’t need to list the things we have to do, we all get it. So to balance that, we need to take breaks and rest in between the excitement and chaos. The excitement, the small talk, the hugging and reconnecting – it can be exhausting, in a good way of course, but just as exhausting.
- Tip: If you can step away for 15 – 20 minutes (heck, even 3-5 minutes) to have a break and take a few deep breaths you will find that it leaves you feeling refreshed and it will also help with your sleep later on by lowering your cortisol levels.
I hate to be a Debbie downer but alcohol and sleep do not mix, at all. Alcohol has a bi-phastic effect, it is both a sedative and stimulant by offering the inital calm and tired feeling that can cause sleepiness, but, it also causes us to wake up about 4 hours into our deep sleep and then holds us in a light stage of sleep until morning, therefore causing us to wake up tired and feeling hungover, even if you didn’t drink too much.
- Tip: Try to limit alcohol to 1 / hour, or avoid within a couple hours before bed to allow your body to process it before falling asleep.
Demand help as needed – it is a strong phrase and I say it with love – but we all need to hear this. If you are trying to do it all it comes at a cost, physically and mentally.
- Tip: Start saying no or ask for help, it will be worth it to balance the mental toll the holidays take.
If You Have Older Kids
Then you know they are likely excited; from preschool through the teenage years it can be an exciting time with different celebrations going on, or just having the time off of school even.
My best advice, stay on track with their routines and schedules; of course there are going to be off days, just try not to have too many in a row if possible so they can catch up.
Plus, kids love routine and consistency, their brains and bodies thrive on it. Try to stick to the schedule that works for them so they can rely on that time for their body and brain to rest and restore.
For your teen – our body clock (circadian rhythm) shifts during these years, meaning that your teen is likely not tired as early in the evening, which then means they are not getting the proper amount of sleep on school days due to being up before their body is ready.
As much as I am a big supporter of consistent schedules, this is a time when it may be best for your teen to sleep in for the first few days of their break, and catch up a little bit on their sleep debt.
- Tip: Naps are okay, but late naps can lead to trouble sleeping at night so encourage sleeping in for a few days instead of consistent napping over the holidays or school may be a harsh reality for them in a few weeks.
Our Little Ones Feel it Too
Most kids will feel overtired at some point over the holidays, whether it is due to overwhelm or their schedule being off, it is normal, but we want to help when possible to offset their overtireness.
Why it this important? Because we all know that a missed nap, or too many late bedtimes can equal less-than-ideal situations for us caregivers, of whom are already tired themselves.
If they have missed a nap, or woke really early, I would suggest bedtime up to an hour earlier than normal, or as early as 6:30 pm.
Sleep begets sleep, so the more we sleep the more our body wants to sleep, meaning that an earlier bedtime can often prevent an early morning waking (did you know our cortisol levels naturally rise around 4am? A late bedtime can cause difficulty sleeing through this time), or cause tears and frustration at bedtime.
- Tip: If you have had a busy day then ensure there is peace and calm at the bedtime routine. Try to spend 20-30 minutes before they go to bed winding down; reading books, doing puzzles and spending time together in dim light, without visible screens, can offer the perfect set up for easy onset of sleep. Late nights and sleepovers are fun, but remember that lost sleep can’t always be caught up on, so plan them at the start of the holidays and then spend the days leading up to school going to bed early and trying to bank some sleep before school starts again.
My husband and I love this time, once our kids got older and more aware we started to ask one another, “EBT tonight? ” (early bedtime tonight?) and the answer was almost always YES! Who doesn’t love more time to themselves (sorry kids – you know we love you..)?!
Remember that our little guys are sensitive, try not to book activites too late, if you have something exciting planned for 6pm it’s going to be hard for your child to settle when you get home, meaning it’s going to be a late bedtime.
Enjoy the time with your family and loved ones, or alone, whatever you need to feel your best self – and don’t forget to sleep – it does a body (and brain) good!
Bedtime Beginnings is a team of Pediatric & Adult Sleep Consultants from Southwestern Ontario, Canada. We help exhausted parents teach their infants & toddlers to sleep well every night with gentle, customized solutions and both group and private coaching options, so your family can all be at their best. Our team can support families in home and also virtually around the globe to ensure everyone is sleeping their best.
Follow us on Instagram for more tips to help you and your family get back to sleeping well each night, you deserve it.
If you haven’t been sleeping well please reach out for a friendly no-obligation phone call to help you and your family get back the rest you deserve.