Halloween has come and gone which means Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As we begin to decorate the house and stock up on groceries, you may already feel the excitement rising. Although we love everything that comes with the holiday season, it can mean additional difficulties when it comes to sleep.
As a mother of four, I understand the holidays can be challenging with regards to proper sleep hygiene. Therefore, my suggestion to the parents I work with is, do your best to get your child onto a solid sleep schedule prior to the start of the holidays, and do your best to stick with it. Children who are overtired may become cranky and hyperactive. Not the lovely, adorable side of them you hope to show while visiting grandparents. Having your child well rested will be to everyone’s benefit.
Don’t let visits cancel out nap time
During the holidays, your house may be buzzing with family and friends. If people are in the house during your child’s regular nap time, it can be easy to begin pushing back your child’s nap to a later time, or skipping it all together. Also, with extra people and noise in the house, your child may find it more difficult to settle down. If possible, do your best to schedule these visits after their regular nap schedules. Keep sleep a priority which will keep everyone happy and more importantly, healthy!
If no one else is going to bed yet
If your holiday includes sleepovers with older cousins who have later bedtimes, your child may resist going to sleep for fear of missing out. You know FOMO (don’t we all experience it at times?) If this is the case, take more time with the bedtime routine. Expect that and plan for it. If your child senses that you’re in a hurry to get back to the activity, they will want to as well. They also might feel slightly displaced if you’ve had to give a lot of your attention to others, so they may demand more of your attention than normal. Spend time reading them their favorite story (maybe more than once!) discussing the day’s events, an extra cuddle, and reassure them that the older kids will be going to bed soon. Remember, extra time spent with them at bedtime and a longer soothing routine will help your child relax and fall asleep much easier. There’s bound to be more noise than usual in your house with the added people, so turn on two sound machines to block the noise. One in your child’s room and the other just outside their bedroom door.
Trying to sleep in an unknown place
If your holidays are taking place at another family’s home, your child may find it difficult adjusting to a different bed. Bring along a stuffed animal, favorite blanket, and sheets from your child’s bed at home to provide some familiarity and comfort for bedtime. If you’re unsure how dark the room will be, you can make your own black-out shades using dark green or black garbage bags and masking tape. You want to create as dark a room as possible, in order to promote the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone,) in your child’s body,
Visiting family in a different time zone
If your holidays include traveling to friends or family in a different time-zone, you may need to start making an adjustment to their schedule beforehand, so that they can smoothly ease into the time difference. Begin the process a few days to a week before, (depending on how many time zones you’ll be crossing.) Progressively pushing sleep time slightly ahead or behind by 15 minutes per day.
Preventing your child from becoming overtired, staying on a regular nap and bedtime, will make things pleasant and enjoyable for everyone. But it can easily happen that during this special time of year, bedtimes can be later than normal and naps can be missed. If your child is well rested from the start, they will be able to handle these schedule changes much better. So try to plan ahead and make sure your child is getting the restorative and consolidated sleep they need before the celebrations begin!