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How to Preserve Your Child’s Sleep For the Holidays

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

By Nicole Cannon, Certified Sleep Consultant

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it? As a parent, the holidays can be a very exciting time. You get together with family and friends and take your kids out to experience all the joy and magic of the holiday season.

To help maintain your child’s daily schedule, try and build travel times around nap periods.

But unfortunately, with the events that we tend to pack into our lives between November and January, our children’s sleep ends up taking a backseat to fun, and this can not only wreak havoc on your littlest ones, but also on your own sanity! Here are some ways to keep your child’s sleep on-track through this action-packed time of year.

1-Try to stick to your child’s schedule as closely as possible MOST days

Children thrive on routine. Not only do their brains come to recognize their day to day events, but a bedtime routine also plays a part in sleeping better throughout the night[1]. However, we tend to fall into the trap of letting our kids nap on the go. Or, we put our children to bed without a routine as we rush home from visiting family (for example), and then we wonder why our good sleepers are suddenly waking up all night! To help maintain your child’s daily schedule, try and build travel times around nap periods. This way your younger child can still get a decent amount of daytime sleep to help balance their busy day. And try your hardest to get home in time to do a quick bedtime routine. You may not be able to do bath, books, and the whole nine yards, but a quick massage with lotion before reading a book or two will help wind your child down before they fall asleep.

2-If traveling, make your travel environment close to the environment at home

Whenever staying overnight at a new place, you want to try and replicate the space so that it’s as close to your child’s home as possible. Some great ways to do this are to bring a travel white noise machine (or use an app on your phone that runs all night long—just shield the screen), temporary blackout shades (or contractor trash bags taped to the windows), and any comfort object your child sleeps with. Don’t forget to make sure the room is the ideal temperature at your destination too—the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends between 68-72 degrees.

A White Noise Machine can bring comfort

3-Avoid the blue light before bed

Blue light is everywhere you turn these days. Whether it be a television or tablet or phone, children are constantly exposed to blue light. Even bright lighting in our homes can delay melatonin and delay onset of sleep[2] (which in children means no rest time for parents). But we tend to dismiss those colorful lights around the holidays. One of the prettiest parts of the holiday season are the various lights across different cultural decorations, but exposing your child to too many of any short-wave light frequencies, especially in the hours right before bedtime, may cause a delay in sleep onset as well as a shorter duration of sleep.

4-Reduce Overstimulation

This one is easier said than done! How could a child not be overstimulated with the sugar, the lights, the music and the presents! Treats containing chocolate (such as hot cocoa) contain caffeine which stimulates your child and keeps them awake longer. High quantities of sugar can also cause bedtime issues. And too many people, sights, and sounds can all cause a sensory overload which may result in a cranky, overtired child who fights sleep. In order to prevent holiday bedtime meltdown, reduce any stimulating foods, stick to a calming pre-bedtime routine and try and keep the 2-3 hours before bedtime more relaxing than the rest of the day. [3]

Author Bio and Contact

Nicole Cannon, The Sleepy Mama, is a certified sleep consultant through the International Maternity and Parenting Institute and member of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants. Nicole recently completed a certification in Infant Mental Health through the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto. Although she had previously done sleep work with families she nannied for, it wasn't until Nicole had her first child in 2013 that she was able to experience how difficult sleep deprivation can be on both children and parents. Now a mom of three very different sleepers, Nicole looks at the entire picture and uses a variety of sleep techniques and methods with families to help everyone get more rest.


[1] Mindell, J. A., Telofski, L. S., Wiegand, B., & Kurtz, E. S. (2009). A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep, 32(5), 599-606.

[2] Gooley, J. J., Chamberlain, K., Smith, K. A., Khalsa, S. B., Rajaratnam, S. M., Van Reen, E., Zeitzer, J. M., Czeisler, C. A., … Lockley, S. W. (2010). Exposure to room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin onset and shortens melatonin duration in humans. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 96(3), E463-72.

[3] Glaze DG. 2004. Childhood insomnia: Why Chris can’t sleep. Pediatric Clin N Amer 51: 33-50.posting loads of engaging content, so be sure to keep your blog organized with Categories that also allow visitors to explore more of what interests them.

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