• James Wilson

For all the parents, these tips keep us sane on Christmas eve

Christmas is upon us, which means ... tis the season for parents to worry about whether their kids will or won't sleep come to Christmas Eve. Don't worry fellow parents, you're not alone out there!

Firstly I'd like to introduce myself. I'm James Wilson, otherwise known as The Sleep Geek, and I'm an experienced sleep practitioner and educator. My mission is to help people understand how they can get better sleep through small yet effective changes to their behaviours, mindset and the sleep environment. Various parents ask me every year how to deal with Christmas Eve, and so I thought I'd share my answers for any more parents out there wondering the same thing!

I’m not here to make those worries worse, or to offer a regimented, prescriptive, hard to stick to a list of rules that will just make our stress and anxiety worse. So firstly, don’t panic! It is one night, and our children’s excitement and wonder are a beautiful, if not tiring thing.

Here are my top tips to make Christmas Eve as sleep-filled as possible:

  1. Have a targeted bedtime in mind, but if they are still buzzing and wired, don’t send them to bed, continue to try and wind them down.

  2. Remember that before bed we need to be relaxed and create a drop in both heart rate and core temperature. A bath or shower about an hour before bed will help the latter as although initially, it raises our core temperature, it drops as we get out.

  3. Then get the little ones ready for bed, teeth brushed and good to go. In our house, we have Christmas PJ’s to try and help this process. If they are all ready for bed, as soon as you see signs of sleepiness you can get them into bed and (hopefully) snoozing.

  4. Think about your pre-sleep Christmas viewing. Although we all know that Die Hard is the best Christmas film ever, I wouldn’t recommend it as a family favourite on Christmas Eve. The same goes for Gremlins. Gizmo might be cute but we don’t want any nightmares caused by the Gremlins! Think about watching; The Snowman, Santa Claus The Movie, Miracle on 34th Street or Elf. These are all perfect pre-sleep films that will help the little ones feel relaxed.

  5. Think about sleep for the rest of the Christmas holidays. Getting it right then makes Christmas Eve easier. Try and support your children in getting a regular sleep pattern, which is driven by a consistent wake-up time. If you want them to sleep as well as possible across the Christmas holidays, then don’t let them lay in for more than an hour and a half past their usual wake up time. This will also make it easier for them to re-adjust to going back to school or nursery.

  6. Finally, a note for the adults. Remember that alcohol is not a sleep inducer but a sedative so it does not give good quality sleep. A drink on Christmas Eve is fine, but a skin-full will leave you feeling shattered the next day and less able to handle the excitement, arguments and the putting together of countless toys on Christmas Day.


I hope these tips help you to feel a bit more prepared for the adventure that is Christmas Eve. You've got through your Christmas shopping and you've got through wrapping up at work, so trust us, you can get through this too!

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