“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”
Sounds good doesn’t it? The children fast asleep in their beds on Christmas Eve night whilst you crack open the sherry and finish wrapping those last minute gifts.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to convince your little ones to sleep when they’re full of excitement about Santa’s imminent visit. And who can blame them? From baths and outright bribes to tiring them into submission, here’s how you get your little ones to sleep the night before Christmas…
1. Wake them up early on Christmas Eve
The sooner they’re up and about, the earlier they’ll want or need to go back to bed. At least that’s the logic. Hopefully, they won’t repay the favour on Christmas Day.
2. Tire them out with an action-packed day
Find time for a winter walk with the family, let the kids loose in the local park or build Snowmen for a few hours if it’s a white Christmas. As little as 10 minutes of exercise can help your little ones to fall asleep faster, so help them to let off as much steam as possible.
3. Give them a Christmas Eve box
Try giving your children a Christmas Eve box to open, containing new pyjamas and a new bedtime story or even a new Christmas film to watch. The excitement of new pyjamas will encourage them to get ready for bed earlier and distract them from the excitement of Christmas day.
4. Pretend it isn’t Christmas
Harsh? Perhaps, but if your youngster is still very little, what’s the harm in forgetting to remind them about the big day? If you want a calm night’s sleep on Christmas Eve, simply pretend it's a normal night.
5. Less sugar before Santa
It’s chocolates, sweets and fizzy drinks galore at Christmas time, and while the odd treat is only fair on Christmas Eve, keep an eye out for little fingers dipping into snack tins. Too much sugar will make bedtime a nightmare and if they drink too much before going to sleep, they’ll likely wake up needing the loo throughout the night – hampering your Santa duties.
6. Pour them a glass of warm milk
Milk contains tryptophan which is an amino acid believed to be sleep-inducing. Milk contains a lot less sugar than some other drinks and doesn’t contain caffeine so it’s a perfect choice for bedtime. (Don’t forget to leave a glass for Santa while you’re at it).
7. Watch a Christmas movie
A nice calming film like ‘The Snowman,’ which has no words just relaxing music, is ideal for winding down. It’s perfect to watch with a nice glass of warm milk and, if you’re lucky, the children might even drop off before the film ends.
8. Keep smartphones and tablets out of reach
At least one hour before bedtime put away all iPads, mobiles and computer equipment. The light from the screens can affect the production of melatonin which can make it harder to fall asleep. Try playing a board game, colouring in or doing a jigsaw together instead.
9. Run a relaxing bath
Research has shown that sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature. A bath will raise your child’s body temperature and as it starts to cool down again, they will begin to feel sleepy. Give your child a bath around one to two hours before bed and then get them cosy in their new pyjamas.
10. Stick to your normal sleep routine
Bedtime needs to be business as usual, no exceptions, even on Christmas Eve. Send them to bed at their normal time for a sense of continuity, saying 'the sooner you go to bed, the sooner Santa will come and the sooner it’ll be Christmas morning'. If siblings usually sleep in separate rooms, keep it that way on Christmas Eve or they’ll keep each other up. And it's well worth setting a specific time to open presents together on Christmas morning, so they know they're expected to stay put in bed.
11. Read a bedtime story
Get your little ones tucked up in bed and read them a relaxing bedtime story. Lying in bed, listening to a story will help calm them down and make them feel sleepy. Fingers crossed, they’ll be snoozing away before you reach the end.
12. Good old fashioned threats…
If all else fails simply remind them that Santa won’t come until they’re asleep. Hopefully, the idea that “the quicker you go to sleep the quicker it will be morning,” will be enough to convince them.
So from everyone here at Bed Guru, we’d just like to say:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”