Ask any parent in December what they really want for Christmas and you can guarantee that high up there on the list is SLEEP. Yes, large quantities of mulled wine and mince pies will definitely help get you through the worst of the sleep deprivation, but what about when the hangover or sugar high wears off?
I see some common themes each year around Christmas time so here’s my insights for getting as much sleep as possible during the festive period.
What can disrupt your child’s sleep at Christmas?
There’s always extra treats around at Christmas and we are all guilty of consuming more than we should at this time of year. So is it really as bad as we think?
Although sugar can increase activity levels temporarily in children (we’ve all seen the sugar rush affect right?! ), unless the activity is immediately before bedtime then sugar won’t directly have an impact on sleep. If you’re child is very active into the evening (regardless of sugar or no sugar!), this will have an impact on their ability to wind down and fall asleep easily. So there’s yet another great reason for a well-defined, consistent bedtime routine, regardless of age.
However, the more sugar consumed during the day, the more energy crashes your child will experience after sugar consumption. These dips create a disturbed sleep schedule which has an impact on night time sleep. Energy levels need to be kept as even as possible throughout the day to ensure the body is ready for a good nights sleep. Refined sugar also knocks blood sugar levels off balance so it’s another reason to choose whole grain for your child’s meals and steer clear of white carbs wherever possible.
My takeaway? Still allow Christmas treats but offer earlier in the day where possible, and avoid giving too many across the whole day to avoid multiple sugar crashes.
Lack of routine
I know I go on about routine an awful lot, but babies and children of any age really do love a good predictable routine. Even us adults love a routine, however, Christmas brings a welcome break from the everyday which in the short term is a blessing to have some real quality family time. But the effect it often has on little ones is that the consecutive late nights, skipped or altered meal times, and missed naps from over-excitement really do take their toll. Our body clocks are dependable on our daily eating and activity schedules so as soon as this is disrupted, guess what’s the first thing to be impacted…yep, sleep!
So yes, do enjoy keeping your child up on Christmas to join in with the family fun and games but throughout the holidays try to stick to their typical routine 80-90% of the time.
All those late nights and missed naps are bound to have an effect, and it’s not just the lack of routine that causes irritable behaviour in our little ones. The build up of missed sleep causes a deficit that often presents your child as a sleep monster! An overtired child = a grumpy, unhappy child, night and day. Did you know that due to imbalanced hormones, overtired-ness can actually cause evening night wakings and early rising? More missed sleep…sending you into a vicious cycle of poor sleep.
You can usually plan for an upcoming late night with some early nights preceding it, or catch up afterwards with an extra long nap and/or an early bedtime the next night. Sadly, it’s rare that a young child will sleep in just because they’ve had a late night. There’s no need to stick to the normal bedtime every night, but try not to have too many late nights in a row and help your child catch up with some extra sleep before or after.
The excitement on Christmas eve is bound too cause some disruption, so aim for a nice early bedtime the night before. Plus building in extra time for a calming wind down in your Christmas Eve traditions will also be a winner!
How else can HushaBoo help?
If you’re struggling with understanding why your little one isn’t sleeping as well as you’d like, you can take a look at our one to one consultation packages here. My last consultation date will be Friday 18th December and support will stop on Wednesday 23rd December until the new year, so get in quick if you need some help before Christmas!
There’s also a new Online Sleep Courses launching in the new year for anyone who prefers to work as part of a group and wants to keep costs down whilst the kids Christmas lists are rising.
Did you know you can purchase HushaBoo Gift Vouchers? See, you really can get the gift of sleep this Christmas. Available to purchase from Voucherbang, you can choose a monetary value, or a voucher for the Birth to 6 Months Course which currently has 20% off until 10th December.
Blogged by Emma, owner of HushaBoo and Mum to Davey. Massive Christmas enthusiast, who will definitely be found eating one too many treats during December. Follow me below for more blogs, updates and advice on all things sleep and parenting.