Christmas is such an exciting time of the year for children of all ages, so naturally bedtime can offer up more challenges than usual, but it doesn’t have to be.
Taking the right steps and instilling precautionary measures long before the big night, or even the nights leading up to the big night, will save you a load of hassle, tears and stress before Mr. Claus arrives.
Sleep expert, Dr Daisy offers expert advice on how to ensure your kids settle down at the right time.
The bedroom should be a place that promotes sleep, so eliminating distractions and creating the right ambience is very important. Many of your kids’ toys will be stored, or at the very least found in the bedroom, but minimising the chances of them playing at night by removing their favourites overnight will be a big help.
This particularly applies to electric toys or anything with screens as these emit blue light, which prevents the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. If you can keep bedroom toys to a minimum, you’re off to a good start.
Keep Daily Activities High
The more tired they get during the day, the more likely they are to sleep at night. It’s really that simple and it applies to us adults too. Whether inside our outside, plenty of playtime to deplete those energy levels is essential.
However, you should ensure that the last playtime session ends a good few hours before bedtime, as it could have an adverse effect and rile them up at the wrong time. Keep them mentally stimulated in those final hours with puzzles or colouring, but keep physical excursions to a minimum at this time.
Routine is Key
As is the case with exercise, children, like adults, thrive with a regular routine to which they can stick to. This is something good for them to get used to for later on in life, but in the run up to Christmas it couldn’t be more effective.
Knowing when they get up, eat, nap, play and then go to sleep will pay huge dividends when trying to get them to sleep at night, as their brains will get into a natural habit of winding down at the right times. The first few days and nights may be tricky, but this is definitely a long term fix that will last well beyond Christmas.
Set the Mood
Nobody at any age wants to go to bed in an uninviting bedroom, so why would your kids be any different? There’s an element of creativity needed here to cater to whatever your child’s interests are, but the key is to make a cosy space that will make them feel safe as well as comfortable.
Keep lighting low, even with any night lights they may need and make sure the temperature in the bedroom isn’t too hot. It’s easy for kids to warm up with extra PJ’s or duvets but much harder to cool down as they will become restless quickly.
Appeal to the Senses
Studies have shown that listening to relaxing music improves sleep quality in children. A study from Great Ormond Street showed that listening to music helped reduce children’s perception of pain. Listening to music can have a calming effect to lower the heart and breathing rate, lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.