Millpond’s Sleep Guide to Surviving Christmas
Help your child sleep well over Christmas!
Mandy Gurney founder of Millpond Sleep Clinic, lets you into her bedtime secrets for a sleep filled Christmas!
Always keep to your usual bedtime routine. Even if you start it later than you normally would, it’s important to follow the same series of simple steps that your child associates with going to sleep.
Children love the familiarity and security that a routine brings which is especially important if they are away from home.
Quieten your little ones well before it’s time for bed. Say goodnight to everyone and take them with you to a quiet room. Spend about 10 to 15 minutes in quiet activity such as reading or doing puzzles.
Adapt to surroundings…..
If you have concerns that your child will struggle to go to sleep on the first few nights away from home or with guests in your house, aim to do the bathing and bed time story reading yourself for the first couple of nights until your child is used to the changes.
Say goodnight and settle your child as you would do normally. The first two nights will set the precedent for while you’re away so focus your energies on these.
If it does all go pear shaped, make sure that as soon as either you or your family and friends return home, normal routines are reinstated. After only 3 or 4 nights your little one will be back on track.
If you’re staying with family or friends, bring familiar items from home such as a favourite soft toy, blanket or even their bedding, which has the familiar smell of home as comfort and reassurance
Getting your child’s sleep back on track after the holidays
If it all goes pear shaped and your little one’s sleep has been affected by being away for Christmas or having family to stay, don’t worry. It will only take 3 or 4 nights to get their sleep back on track.
Once you are home or your guests have left, resume your normal bedtime routine immediately.
- Start the routine with a 5 min warm relaxing bath with minimal interaction.
- Pre dim the bedroom lights.
- Read a story or two.
- Cuddle and kiss goodnight.
What about your sleep?
Christmas can be exhausting for parents; sleeping is the time when our bodies recover from the excesses of life. Over the holidays eating and drinking too much can upset your sleep patterns.
See our top tips:
- Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water or soft drinks throughout the day.
- Avoid that last nightcap! Although having a nightcap can make you feel drowsy, alcohol decreases the amount of REM sleep we get. Missing out on REM sleep will mean you wake feeling exhausted. Give your body time to process the alcohol you have drunk before you try to sleep. It can take an hour or more for the average person to process one unit of alcohol.
- After Christmas lunch try drinking herbal or mint tea instead of a cup of coffee. Caffeine will interfere with your sleep drive as it blocks sleep inducing chemicals in the brain; so it is best to avoid caffeine at least six hours before bed.
- Get some fresh air and perhaps take the family for a walk, this will improve the quality of sleep for everyone.
The party season and the Christmas holidays often mean late nights, so don’t forget to get some quality sleep yourself – even if it’s just a few hours, so that you start the New Year on the right foot.