July 3, 2015

Holiday Bedtimes

Holiday bedtimes » Hearts & Dreams » Pediatric Sleep Consulting

Holiday bedtimes are always thrown off due to the fun activities, the loud frenzy of guests at your house, and overall excitement in children. As you approach a holiday (particularly those with late nights and fireworks), a sleep plan is key to helping your kids thrive despite the expected interruptions to their normal biological sleep rhythm. Here are some suggestions that can help you plan – because let's face it, how many of us are going to force bedtime at 7pm when there are fun activates and fireworks all night long? (Note: this mostly applies to children who are age 4 and under, since 5 and 6 year-olds are better at catching up on sleep.)

Strategy

  • If possible, throw in an extra nap before your festivities or at least a long extended quiet time for your kids.
  • Have them take a quick 45min nap at their usual bedtime and wake them up after the 45min (whether this be in the car or a friend's house). The reason for this is that 45min is one sleep cycle, which will allow their cortisol levels to stay on the lower side and essentially trick their bodies into believing this is just another nap.
  • Snuggle them when they wake up. When you wake them up after the 45min be sure to give them all the snuggle time they need to wake up completely. This naturally lowers cortisol levels and makes for a more peaceful transition into an awake state.
  • Offer them a protein filled snack and fluids when you wake them up. This helps their bodies to naturally get an energy boost instead of only relying on hormones for the energy surge.
  • Don't push bedtime too late because our bodies operate on the circadian rhythm which comes in waves. You are going to want to ride these waves. As the night progresses their body is going into a deeper, more restorative sleep, which you don't want your kids to miss out on too much.  I find that if you can catch the 10:30pm-ish wave your kids can still recover from the off-night sooner.
  • Take a day to recover. This means your kids will probably need to nap earlier and sleep longer – and that's okay. After a long night be sure to keep the next day free of too many plans and allow your kids to recover from the long night (you too). By the second day, your kids might still be tired but it should be fine to get back into your routine.

In closing, whether you have kids or not, if you're lighting your own fireworks, try to be considerate of neighborhood bedtimes and PTSD military veterans. Stay safe and have a happy holiday!

Let me know your frustrations and/or victories around holiday bedtimes in the comments below.

Myra Hartzheim

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