Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule for your child is essential over their holiday break.
The holiday season can make maintaining a regular sleep schedule very challenging with all the activities, parties, and excitement. But to make the transition back to school easier, and to avoid sleep regression, it is important to try and uphold your child’s sleep schedule as much as possible.
Here are our tips on how to help your little one’s sleep schedule remain as consistent as possible over the holiday break:
- Keep their bedtime hour as consistent as possible. Staying up a little late for family gatherings occasionally is okay. However, you should try and limit this to only an hour or two for no more than one or two nights in a row. Too many days off schedule can result in mood swings and meltdowns, and make it more difficult to get back on track.
- Continue to practice established bedtime routines. Whatever routine you practice before going to bed normally should be practiced over school breaks to help your child fall asleep easily. Bedtime routines send signals to the brain that it is time to prepare for sleep and will make it easier for your child to do so. If their routine usually consists of taking a bath or shower then having a story read to them in bed then this is what should happen every night over their break, even on a holiday night.
- Have your child wake up at the same time every day. You probably groaned out loud when you read that. We know it sounds crazy. Everyone is probably looking forward to sleeping in. But, waking and going to bed at the same time every day is important to making sure you don’t throw off your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a sort of internal clock that lets your body know when it should be sleeping and when it is time to be awake. If you allowed your child to stay up late the night before, we still suggest waking them at the same time and having them go to sleep maybe an hour or two earlier the next night to help make up for the lost sleep and help them to get back on schedule.
- Keep electronics out of bed. We highly suggest avoiding electronics within at least the last hour before bedtime. Two to three hours is even better. Not only are they overstimulating, but the light that comes off electronics such as tablets, iPods, cell phones, televisions, and computers can inhibit the body’s natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin. A reduction in melatonin can result in trouble falling asleep. Have your child charge their electronics outside of the bedroom so they aren’t tempted to reach for them at night when they should be sleeping.
- Stay realistic with your plans. Often, you will find that children are adaptable. However, depending on their age, you may need to rethink a holiday party that starts at 7:00 p.m. or later. Stick to activities that are more family bedtime friendly to help stick as close to their schedule as possible. Or, consider hiring a babysitter for the evening so that your kid’s sleep is not disrupted.
- Make time to wind down. The stimulation of the holiday activities can leave kids wired, making it much more difficult to sleep when it’s time. Instead of allowing your child to play with their new toys up until the last minute before it is time to engage in their bedtime routine, consider allowing for a few extra minutes to unwind. Put the toys away and dim the lights and ease into their regular routine.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, sleep disruptions will occur over the holiday break. If this is the case for your child, three or four days before they go back to school, adjust their sleep time 15 to 30 minutes a night (depending on the amount of time lost), and wake up at the regular school-schedule time until things are back to normal.
If your child is having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night, they could be suffering from a sleep disorder. The Valley Sleep Center offers pediatric sleep studies for those in need. Call 480.830.2900 and schedule a sleep consultation today.