5 tips to get excited children to sleep this Christmas Eve

Forget perfecting the turkey and avoiding family arguments, one of the most stressful things about Christmas is the prospect of getting excited kids to sleep the night before.

With the promise of Santa arriving, falling asleep can often fall last on the list of priorities for children, as they stay awake in the hopes of catching everyone’s favourite bearded man planting presents in the living room.

If you’re a parent who is already dreading bedtime tonight, don’t panic – we’ve put together some simple tips to help little ones drift off with ease so you can also get some rest before the big day.

1. Do something active in the day

One of the easiest ways to guarantee sleep is to tire out kids during the daylight hours so they feel ready to rest in the evening. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that regular exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly, and it’s the same for children too.

Whether it’s a trip to an adventure play area, a family game of football or simply a long walk in the countryside, make sure to take a break from the Christmas films and get them off that sofa – it will help them expend excess energy and prevent them from feeling wired later in the evening.

2. Follow the normal bedtime routine

Although it’s tempting to let children stay awake during the school holidays, it can actually make it more difficult for them to fall asleep in the long-run. This is because altering their bedtime can affect their circadian rhythm – the internal body clock that’s driven by delicate hormone levels throughout the day.

Stick to their usual bedtime rituals, such as having some supper or reading a book, and order lights out at the appropriate time too – no matter how much they protest for just “10 more minutes”.

3. Give them a bath

Studies have shown that increasing our body temperatures before bed can help us feel sleepier, leading to an easier time drifting off – even with the prospect of gifts under the tree downstairs. This is because body temperature plays a crucial part in regulating the internal circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to feel sleepy or alert.

A warm bath before bed, with a couple of drops of lavender oil, could be just the ticket to getting little ones off to sleep before Father Christmas arrives. It’ll also save you the trouble of trying to get kids into the bath during the chaos of Christmas morning too.

4. Avoid sugary treats before bed

From selection boxes to tins of Quality Street, Christmas often means the house is packed with more chocolates than usual.

While it’s hard to keep on top of how much kids are eating over the festive period, make sure to keep a lid on the sweet treats after 6pm, as chocolate can kick up blood sugar levels – which isn’t productive for sleep or maintaining consistent sleep patterns.

5. Power down electronics an hour before bed

Attempting to get kids to sleep with a bedtime story on their tablet seems like a good idea, but this can actually be counterproductive.

Too much screen-time can have a sleep-suppressing effect  on kids’ brains, as electronic devices emit blue light which can boost your attention span, suppressing your body’s natural sleep hormone, making for a disruptive night’s sleep.

Switch off screens an hour before bed and make sure everybody in the household sticks to the rule – that way, kids can start to properly wind down the moment they get into bed.

- Press Association

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