As with most things at Christmas, daily routines, including sleep schedules, can go out the window. We tend to go to bed later, eat at different times, and do different things during the day. We all know the feeling over Christmas when no one knows what day of the week it is, you don’t know how you are going to get through a mountain of food, or what’s meant to be on telly that night, but having another mince pie will definitely help!
One thing that can often suffer during these times is your little ones sleep, and the last thing you need during the festive “no mans land” is to be sleep deprived.
Now I’m not a Christmas sleep Scrooge. I’m not going to tell you to stick to your routine no matter what otherwise you are going to ruin sleep for all eternity. You may just want to stick to your little ones routine because actually that works best for you. But if you need flexibility in your routine but want to do some sleep damage limitation then follow these top tips;
1) Be aware of wake windows. The last thing you need is an overtired little angel showing their demonic side. Now when you are in the swing of festivities this may mean taking your little one off for a tactical walk in the pushchair or drive round the block to give them a little bit of a nap, even if it doesn’t last as long as their typical nap. It will still help reduce their likelihood of becoming overtired and in the fine words of a certain supermarket “every little helps”.
2) Watch what they are eating. Again I don’t mean to sound like the fun police but make sure they don’t fill up too much on sugary treats. Filling up on chocolate and mince pies might seem fun in the day but could lead to sleepless nights. Not eating adequate food groups such as protein can lead to dips in blood sugar levels during the night which can lead to an increased chance of night wakings.
3) Get outside. This one can help people of all ages. So many people worry that their little ones will catch a cold if they go out in the cold but it’s simply not true (as long as they are wrapped up appropriately!). People catch more colds in the winter not because of the weather, but because they spend more time in enclosed warm spaces with no fresh air. So please don’t worry about getting your little ones outside.
The reason why its so important for sleep is that fresh air can raise levels of oxygen in your brain, which in turn boosts the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is the happy hormone that converts to melatonin at bedtime and helps our little ones (and big ones!) get to sleep and stay asleep.
4) Stick to the same routine, even if it isn’t at the same time. Sticking to the same process of “wash/teeth/book/bed”, or however you typically do their bedtime routine, will stimulate their natural production of melatonin and they will be much more likely to go to bed easily and stay asleep for longer than if you skip any of their normal bedtime routine. It may mean that some nights it has to be a whistle stop of a bedtime routine but that will be a lot more beneficial than trying to put them straight to bed.
5) Be consistent. If things do go completely to pot over Christmas and you end up in what you think is a sleep mess don’t panic. Just get back to their normal routine as soon as you can and keep consistent when implementing that. Yes that may mean that you have to go back to basics, and your little ones might need a bit more emotional support whilst getting used to their routine again but you can get back there. And the more consistent you are, the quicker it will happen.
So in summary my 5 top tips for getting some sleep this Christmas is try to prevent overtiredness by being mindful of wake windows. Make sure you fill your little ones up on nutritious foods before you let them loose on all the “treat foods”. Get outside, fresh air is magic. Stick to their routine where possible, even if it’s not the same time. And be consistent when trying to get “back to normal”.
Please feel free to share this and help others get a good sleep this Christmas. After all, mums that help each other and share these little gems are the best kind of people!
Merry Christmas Everyone