There is no such thing as routine around the holidays, at least not in my house. The holiday season can be chaotic, especially for your children, and sleep unfortunately is sometimes put on the back burner. Whether the holiday break is filled from sun-up until sun-down with activities, you are traveling long distance to be with family, or maybe you are sleeping in an unfamiliar room, maintaining as much consistency as possible will help keep your child healthy and happier.
Maintain a Regular Bedtime
Think that letting your kids stay up a few hours later than usual will make them happier? Think again. A 2013 study published in Pediatrics found that a regular bedtime was tied to better behavior. Not surprising, as children need that regularity to help teach their bodies how to function properly on a 24- hour circadian rhythm.
Kids Enjoy Routine
For my daughter, it’s dinner, bath, footed pajamas, two books and then bed. It works every time (knock on wood), and most parents who have an established routine will agree. Find out what routine you can consistently offer your child, and execute it nightly.
How much sleep is enough?
According to a 2010 study, kids who had gotten less than 10 hours of nighttime (not including daytime naps) sleep were twice as likely to become overweight or obese later on in life. If your child is struggling with behavior issues or has a family history of obesity, slowly increase nighttime sleep to more than 10 hours.
Would you let your child drink a cup of coffee before bed? Hopefully you answered no. Sugar is a stimulant, similar to coffee. Limit sweets to whole fruits, and definitely don’t offer your child a glass of grape juice prior to bed.
If your child struggles with getting healthy, restorative sleep, try my baseline sleep tips:
• Start diming the lights in your house about one hour prior to scheduled bedtime and make sure the child’s room is completely dark (blackout curtains).
• Do not allow electronics with lights in the child’s bedroom (TV, computer, iPad). Other necessary lights can be covered up. For example, if your humidifier has a small bright light, cover it with black tape.
• Put a few drops of lavender essential oil in your child’s bedroom humidifier, or add a few drops to a water spray bottle and spritz around room at night. Lavender is calming.
• One of my favorite over-the-counter herbal formulas for supporting healthy sleep is “Calm Restore” by GaiaKids. Use as directed on the label.