Dave Gibson


Arguably one of the most difficult nights of the year of getting small children to bed on time is Christmas Eve. With all the excitement it’s hard to make sure they get enough sleep and so remain bright and breezy on the big day itself. I remember all too well being grumpy as a youngster by Christmas evening as the lack of sleep caught up with me. Here are ten top tips on how to help your kids get to sleep on Christmas Eve so you can have all have a fantastic and wide-awake Christmas Day

Top Sleep Tips for Christmas Eve

1) Agree on a plan for Christmas Eve
Start by agreeing on a broad plan for Christmas Eve. Make the morning active, to tire out your children. Start to wind things down in the late afternoon. In the evening meal make things slower and more relaxing to prepare your children for bedtime. Set bed and wake times which everyone agrees with. If you are going away or changing sleeping arrangements agree on who is sleeping where and in what bed too. 2) Wake earlier on Christmas Eve too
If the plan is for the family to wake up earlier than normal on Christmas Day you could ease the impact on your children’s body clock by staggering the change. This would mean waking earlier on Christmas Eve too. For example, if you are planning to allow your children to get up at 6 am on Christmas Day and their normal wake up time is 7 am then set the alarm for 6.30 am on Christmas Eve. Not only does this helps their body clock adjustment to cope with the change in times but it also sets them up to fall to sleep a lot easier on Christmas Eve evening. 3) Make the morning physically active
Get your children outside to exercise. This burns off energy and provides a deeper and more refreshing night’s sleep. A long family walk is great and playing an energetic sport is even better. Sunlight early in the day also strengthens the body clock for the evening sleep. 4) Have boisterous games in the afternoon not the evening
Schedule any boisterous indoor games and computer games in the afternoon rather than the evening. Loud music is better in the afternoon too. Then plan calmer evening activities, such as family board or card games and reading which is more conducive to sleep. 5) Cut out the sweets early
The is a bi-directional influence of sugar and sleep. Children who sleep less than needed crave more sugar and children who eat more sugar and have sugary drinks sleep for less time. For some sugar children, sugar also speeds them up. Aim at cutting back on sweets after lunchtime as added to the excitement of Christmas your children may well finder it harder to get to sleep. If you do have relatives visiting in your bubble make sure they know not to offer treats late on too. 6) Technology curfew
Keep all the normal tech curfews. Ideally, all technology should be switched off at least an hour before bedtime and preferably two hours. 7) Do a bedtime countdown
Give your children plenty of notice with 30, 20 and 10-minute warnings to the agreed bedtime. 8) Keep the routine going
Our brains like habits. Therefore stick with their usual bedtime routine, i.e. warm bath, brush teeth and story. Also, if you are part of the family that is visiting this year, try to make the bedtime routine as familiar as possible. So bring toys, books, and even bedding and their favourite pillow to make your child feel secure and ‘at at home’. This also avoids something called the first-night effect where we tend to stay more alert in a strange bed. 9) Allow extra time to wind down
If you think it’s going to take them longer to get to sleep, get them into bed ½ hour earlier to allow for the additional excitement. Remind little ones that Santa won’t come until they are sound asleep. 10) Set a good example. Children tend to copy what we do. They also ‘buy into rules’ if they think they are fair. Therefore, always set a good example by going to bed on time too. This helps your children understand that they won’t be missing out on any more fun. For more tips on kids-sleep see our post https://thesleepsite.co.uk/how-to-help-your-children-sleep-better/ I hope these tips give you a few ideas on how to reduce stress and get your children to sleep easily on Christmas Eve. . With Santamania set to strike out any hope of a silent night on Christmas Eve, help is at hand for young families wondering how to get little ones off to sleep on the most exciting night of the year. For many parents, the night before Christmas is one of the hardest bedtimes to deal with. Small children – especially those who ‘still believe’ – are on such a high, that getting them off to sleep can be harder than usual. But it’s important to ensure everyone manages some quality sleep as no one wants tired, grumpy children – or their parents – on Christmas Day!

Here are our Sleep Secrets:

  1. First up: tire them out! Nothing like a spot of fresh air and healthy exercise to have little ones worn out and sleep-primed for the festive Eve. Christmas and Boxing Day walks have long been a family favourite, but more and more local groups are organising walks, rambles and even themed treasure hunts on Christmas Eve too – so look up what’s happening locally.
  2. In the excitement leading up to bedtime, along with the extra sweet festive goodies around the home, try to make sure young children don’t over-indulge in sugary cakes, snacks and mince pies. The ensuing sugar rush could keep them bouncing long into the night!
  3. As part of the Christmas Eve sit-down and calm-down regime, curl up quietly together and take a look at Santa’s worldwide parcel delivery progress on one of the Christmas tracker apps. After that, anything that remotely smacks of electronic gaming or wizardry needs to be banished for the night – and certainly from the bedroom.
  4. Encourage youngsters to leave a festive milky drink for Santa (and carrots for the reindeer) – and to have one themselves too. Give it a little ‘added Noel’ by making a Snowman Smoothie with bananas, oats, milk and plain yoghurt (healthy, sleep inducing and one to Google).
  5. Now for bath time – but keep it quiet/ low key not splashy/noisy. As well as helping them wind down, a bath can be a great chance to chat calmly about what the night might bring – and what they should do if they wake up in the night. Be mindful to represent Santa & Co as a friendly rather than scary proposition. Young children are more sensitive and easily scared than we realise.
  6. And so to bed. Cue the cutesy Christmas PJs and, as they get comfortable, a quick check that the room is at Goldilocks standard (not too hot, not too cold, ideally 16 – 18 degrees Celsius). Blackout curtains will help keep wakeful light out for as long as possible; and slightly opening a top-light window, if you have one, will ensure the room is well ventilated.
  7. Now to check the bedroom appears suitably restful. While it may look as if a bomb has hit it within a few short hours, it’s a fact that a cluttered room with the floor covered in toys presents a stimulating environment to children rather than one which is conducive to sleep.
  8. All sorted? Then bring on story time. Perhaps that perennial favourite, The Night Before Christmas? One for you as much as them and followed by – depending on your child’s musical tolerance levels – a soft rendition of their favourite carol?
  9. Later, and once you’re sure they’ve drifted off, it’s time to place a stocking at the bottom of the bed: the traditional parental ploy to buy some extra time in the morning when they first wake up.
  10. Finally, if, as you read that story, your child’s bed felt a bit lumpy, sounded a bit creaky or looked too small for them, don’t forget the Christmas holidays are full of New Year sales ads .

Christmas is days away and everyone is busy finishing their Christmas shopping and working on their final holiday preparations. In all of the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to forget the joy and excitement that children feel this time of year. The story of a magical man from the North Pole coming to your home to leave you presents while you sleep is very thrilling for young children. This one magical time of year they can wish for something and see it come true. Once December 1st hits the countdown to Christmas begins and creates a large build-up of excitement. By the time Christmas Eve finally arrives, containing their excitement becomes nearly impossible, and it is safe to say that sleep is the last thing on their mind. No, getting little ones to sleep on Christmas Eve is not an easy task. However, by trying out some of our useful tips, the challenge of getting them to sleep on Christmas Eve may be a little less daunting.

  1. Keep them active throughout the day
    Keep them active and moving. Encourage them to go outside, exercise and stay active. The more active they are during the day the more tired they will be at bedtime, making it easier for them to fall asleep.
  2. Encourage them to have a bath before bed
    A warm bath will drop their body temperature and will make them feel more sleepy naturally after.
  3. Glass of warm milk before bed
    Warm milk contains tryptophan, a sleep-inducing enzyme, and will help make the kids relaxed and sleepy.
  4. Keep sugar intake to a minimum through the day
    Avoid anything with too much sugar and caffeine after lunch. They will get too much energy from these things and won’t want to sleep.
  5. Turn off TVs, games and cell phones
    The lights will stop melatonin production – a hormone that gives your body clock its cues to sleep. Tell them that after a certain time everything must be turned off.
  6. Stick to their normal bedtime routine
    If you have an established bedtime routine you should try and stick to it on Christmas Eve. Their body is trained to know it is time to sleep, and they will drift off more quickly.
  7. Send them to bed early
    You can stick to your routine still, just start it earlier. Kids will naturally want to stay up later than normal when Santa is on his way. If you get them into bed even half an hour earlier it makes for more time trying to fall asleep and they will probably go to sleep a little earlier than they would have otherwise. This is great because they won’t miss out on as much sleep due to their excitement.
  8. Decide on a time for opening presents
    This will help you to get more sleep and hopefully they will as well. If they have a set time when they can get up and open their presents, they won’t be constantly waking you up asking if they can open them yet.
  9. Make sure their surroundings are as normal as possible
    If you travel for Christmas, try and make their surroundings as familiar as possible. Make their bedroom atmosphere as close to what they usually have at home, bring their favorite toy, book, blanket or pillow to help ease them off to sleep.

If all else fails…

  1. Remind them that Santa won’t come if they’re not asleep
    If they still cannot contain their excitement and refuse to fall asleep, remind them that unless they are asleep they will not get a visit from Santa. Santa is magical and it means that he cannot be seen, so remind them that until they are fast asleep they will not get a visit.

Happy Holidays from the staff at Valley Sleep Center! The countdown to Christmas has begun, many have decorated their Christmas tree, started playing Yuletide tunes and decked the halls with boughs of holly. It is obviously a thrilling time of year. Not just for kids, but for adults too. According to our survey, the excitement is such that 1 in 5 adults will get less than five hours of sleep during the night of Christmas Eve, and 1 in 4 adults will be jumping out of bed on Christmas morning between 4:00 and 7:00 am. This can then lead to an exhausting Christmas Day where even the idea of socialising will make you crave your bed. So, how can you ensure you get a good night’s sleep on Christmas Eve without losing the magic of the most exciting night of the year?

How to sleep on Christmas Eve

In our Sleep Better Study, 54% of women and 45% of men stated they found it harder to fall asleep after a day of stress. And what more stressful day is there than Christmas Eve? Apart from those lucky, organised few who have everything ready, most of us are running around like headless chickens trying to tie up loose ends before the big day. To help, we’ve compiled our best tips for getting to sleep on Christmas Eve…

1. Avoid caffeine

Caffeine has a half-life of between 6 and 8 hours. That’s the amount of time it stays in your system. When you have a cup of coffee, the caffeine stimulates all the nerves in your frontal lobes – waking your brain, boosting adrenaline and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals. Caffeine also increases your chances of developing a headache and can make your heart rate jump, waking you up or disturbing your sleep. No doubt, we’re all a little excited for Christmas without throwing adrenaline-boosting chemicals into the mix. And with what’s likely to be an early start the next day, avoiding caffeine is one of the best ways to ensure a blissful sleep on Christmas Eve.

2. Stay busy during the day

Make sure you have a well-planned day so that the weight of productivity sends you into a deep slumber. Hopefully, gifts will already be wrapped so you can concentrate on pre-chopping vegetables for the big day. The best way to guarantee a fully productive day is to make a checklist of what needs to be bought, wrapped, cooked and decorated. All the energy that might have kept you awake at night will be depleted, leaving you to sleep like a baby regardless of your excitement for Christmas.

3. Limit exposure to light

Get ready for some science! When the body decides to sleep, the small pineal gland in your brain wakes up and produces a hormone called melatonin. Once this floods into your bloodstream, you naturally become less alert and are ready to drift off to sleep. This usually occurs around 9 pm, and melatonin levels will remain high for about 12 hours. However, our modern lifestyles are fighting the production of melatonin. The pineal gland relies on darkness to become active and staring at a television screen, smart tablet or phone has the negative effect of delaying melatonin. This causes disturbance in sleep and will make you struggle to drift off on Christmas Eve. Steps can be taken to limit the damaging blue light, such as lowering the brightness of the screen or, better still, adding a special screen protector.

4. Get ready for sprouts, carrots and all the trimmings

If you’re hosting Christmas dinner this year – don’t leave prep until the last minute. Instead of worrying about all things you need to do the night before and waking up super early on Christmas morning to make sure Santa has been and start preparing dinner, do it the night before. Your vegetables will stay fresh in the fridge if you peel them and pop them into sealed containers overnight. Don’t worry, they’ll still taste just as delicious. Keeping your mind active with tasks, and ticking things off your to-do list on Christmas Eve will make it go faster and help you feel relaxed when you get into bed.

Fun activities to keep your kids busy on Christmas Eve

  1. Bake some Christmas-themed cookies. Think Christmas trees, snowmen magical reindeer, Santa, and his elves.
  2. Get ready for Santa – leave some milk and snacks out for when he visits. Don’t forget carrots for his reindeer.
  3. Movie night! Watch all your kid’s favourites: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Miracle on 34th Street and more.
  4. Read Christmas stories together, there’s nothing like reading a heartfelt book with your children to get into the spirit of things.
  5. Make Christmas crafts. If you have family coming over for Christmas day, the night before you can make Christmas cards for them with your children.

If you keep your little ones occupied with lots of fun and laughter, they’ll sleep well when it comes to bedtime. These tips will help you doze off on Christmas Eve. Don’t ruin the big day by having poor sleep quality the night before. It’s a fantastic time of year and should be enjoyed by everybody. Happy Christmas everyone. We hope you enjoy all the Christmas cheer this year.

More from the Sleep Matters Club

It’s Christmas Eve — and our households are bound to be buzzing with excitement. Tomorrow morning we will be waking up to lovely gifts, preparing for dinner and spending time with loved ones. But before that can happen, we need to get all our excited little people to sleep. Easier said than done. It’s hardly surprising that children find it hard to get some shut eye on Christmas Eve — and as we know, Santa can’t come until everyone is fast asleep. So, to give parents a helping hand, we have teamed up with childrenswear brand La Coqueta Kids and expert Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari to bring you 10 top tips to help your excited children get to sleep on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas — and good luck!

1. Discuss expectations ahead of the big day

Tomorrow morning we will be waking up to lovely gifts, preparing for dinner and spending time with loved ones. But before that can happen, we need to get all our excited little people to sleep.
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A day or two before Christmas Eve, have chat about your expectations for the day – and night – including what is going to happen, who is coming, what will you do, and the order of things, including their bedtime. Leave room for negotiation, so they know you can be flexible if they ask to stay up later and spend more time with you.

2. Avoid sugar from midday onwards

Chocolate, sweets, and other high-sugar foods are all over-stimulating for the brain and nerve system. Avoiding these foods as much as possible from midday onwards can help them to relax at bedtime. Although this is probably mission impossible on Christmas Eve!

3. Avoid screens for at least 2 hours before bed

Tomorrow morning we will be waking up to lovely gifts, preparing for dinner and spending time with loved ones. But before that can happen, we need to get all our excited little people to sleep.
(Image: Getty Images) No screens before bed will help to prevent overstimulating their brain which can negatively affect both their ability to sleep and the quality of it. Although we think a family movie around the TV might be the exception!

4. Have dinner earlier, and bring bedtime routine forward

You may like to begin the bedtime routine a little bit earlier, so that if it takes your child longer to fall asleep than usual, it is still a reasonable time. To do this, it may help to bring everything forward slightly, including your dinner.

5. Spend time with them before they go to sleep

Spend time with them before they go to sleep, whether this is by being with them during bath time or reading them a bedtime story. Parents can be very busy during the Christmas period, but a child who feels connected with their parents in a meaningful way is more likely to collaborate on things such as bedtimes.

6. Create a calming atmosphere as you approach bedtime

Dimming lights, having a shower or bath, and eating an early dinner all contribute to a good night’s sleep – even if it may be challenging to achieve this during the Christmas period.

7. Encourage calm and relaxing activities before bed

Spend time doing calm and relaxing activities leading up to bedtime, to help them to wind down ready for sleep. Listen to yoga-style music, dim the lights, and do some drawing, reading, or writing in bed. Children who are old enough may like to write in a journal about their feelings before going to sleep.

8. Give your child options

Giving your child options will fulfil their need for autonomy and control and will direct that need in a healthy way. For example, try the following: «after your bath, it is time to go to sleep. Would you like to read a story in bed, or shall we listen to one song in bed before you go to sleep?

9. Offer quiet tasks to continue in bed

Agree on a quiet and relaxing task that they can continue doing in bed until they fall asleep naturally, such as reading or listening to a Christmas-themed audio book.

10. Acknowledge their excitement

You could say something like «I can see that you are very excited about tomorrow. Of course you are! We all are looking forward to it. Now it is time to go to sleep and tomorrow we can continue with the excitement. What do you think may help you relax now and feel ready to sleep?». Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond — Sign up to our daily newsletter here. Story Saved You can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.

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