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23rd Dec 2021

Expert shares 5 tips to get your excited kids to fall asleep this Christmas Eve

Santa is only a few hours away…

I know it’s probably been said to you a million times, but how did Christmas fly in so fast?

It genuinely feels like Halloween was only yesterday and now we’re all preparing for the main man himself to arrive.

The anticipation of what’s going to be under the tree on Christmas morning can make it near impossible for 1 in 3 kids to fall asleep on the night of Christmas Eve.

Sleep expert Play Like Mum has shared with us some super useful last minute top tips to help parents make their kids go to bed on what is one of the most difficult nights of the year to get kids to sleep.

1 – Tire them out

Fill the day with loads of festive activity so your kids are able to burn off energy. You could rope them in to help you out with food prep, get them to tidy their room, enlist them to make Christmas cards to deliver to neighbours, partake in holiday activities such as going on a walk to see the lights in the evening or simply go on a long nature walk as a family.

2 – Limit the sweets

Though Christmas is the time for going all out with treats, an excess of sugar can negatively impact sleep. Consciously limit the number of sweet treats your child can have on Christmas Eve and set a cutoff time beyond which they are no longer welcome to indulge so as to reduce the chance of an unwanted sugar rush before bedtime. If you will be having visitors, ensure they are kept informed of this and the reasoning behind it to avoid losing progress.


3 – Tell them Santa won’t come if they’re awake

Kids get so excited at the thought of Santa bringing presents, but remind them of the warning in ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’: he won’t appear until everyone is fast asleep! This will build excitement for going to bed rather than staying awake. In future, you could be creative and incorporate this information into a bedtime story – start 2-3 nights before Christmas Eve and keep it up every night until Christmas Eve so kids lose the urge to bargain about it.

4 – Provide bedtime drinks

Milk and cherry juice are naturally high in melatonin and tryptophan – compounds that promote sleep. A sugar free glass of either before bed could be the solution for kids struggling to sleep.

5 – Put them to bed slightly earlier to allow extra time to wind down

It’s only natural for kids to be excited for their presents on Christmas morning so it’s not unusual that they may find it hard to sleep. Have earlier dinners and baths and get them into bed an hour to 30 minutes earlier than their usual time to allow them adequate time to unwind. Consider turning this into a game of who-can-fall-asleep-the-fastest.

better sleep for children

Speaking further Andrew Coplestone, Founder at Play Like Mum said;

“Studies show that 1 in 3 kids struggle to sleep on Christmas Eve and how can you blame the little ones when adults themselves struggle to sleep the night before an important event? Make sure you acknowledge their excitement and validate their thoughts and feelings to avoid any tantrums.

A good night’s sleep on Christmas Eve goes a long way to set the whole family up for a relaxed Christmas day. If you want your kids to take you seriously when you try to get them to sleep the night before, you need to set a good example and do as you demand of them. Instead of being strict when you lay down the rules, consider turning as much as you can into a game and give your child options along the way so they feel in control of their actions.

Spend quality time with them before bed, with all devices put away. During this time, you could distract them from their excitement by reading stories to them, invent your own imaginative stories together and enact them out with toys and costumes already at hand or make gratitude lists as a family. For those kids who have electronic devices incorporated into their bedtime ritual, you could schedule in a Christmassy movie before bed and coordinate the ending of the movie with the beginning of bedtime.

On the day of Christmas Eve, limit the intake of sugary treats throughout the day, keep up routines as much as possible and promote heavy activity so your kids are wiped out by the end of the day and eager to go to bed.”