This is a guest post by Rosie Osmun.
The end of the year is a wonderful time of celebrating and getting together with the people closest to us. However, all our busy plans can wreak havoc on a steady sleep schedule. To combat this, here are a few natural tips to help you and your kids sleep better through the holiday season.
Practice Bedtime Yoga
A fun, connecting activity the whole family can do before bed is nighttime yoga. The relaxing benefits of yoga will allow your kids to calm down, stretch out any tension in their bodies from the day and have bonding time with the whole family.
Try these five kid-friendly yoga poses that release physical and mental tension, or this yoga sequence to help cultivate sleep in babies and toddlers. Dimming the lights, playing soft music, focusing on breath and using blankets and pillows while doing yoga makes the activity comfortable and relaxing for everyone.
The great thing about bedtime yoga is that it can easily be done while the family is out town. This routine can help kids cope with being away from their usual sleeping conditions.
Enjoy a Soothing Cup of Tea
A warm, calming beverage at night can really put the mind and body at ease. Herbal teas in particular have no caffeine and are made with soothing ingredients like chamomile or peppermint. These teas have an appealing flavor and are gentle on children’s stomachs.
Preparing the tea can be an enjoyable part of the family process as your kids can choose their favorite mugs and explore new teas. Try loose-leaf tea, which eliminates wasteful tea bags and offers the opportunity for mixing flavors. Drink the tea as you cozy up with a bedtime story. Bringing your favorite nighttime tea helps maintain the bedtime routine when you travel.
Choose Healthy Bedtime Snacks
If your child complains about being hungry before bedtime, a healthy snack can actually be a great thing to aid in sleep. Stay away from holiday sweets or sugary beverages. Opt instead for whole grains, almonds, bananas or apples — a few whole grain crackers with sliced fruit or nuts makes a great bedtime snack. Natural, organic foods will have less sugars that can lead to your child getting a sugar rush right before bed.
Also, make sure you time the snack so that digestion doesn’t interfere with sleep.
Avoid Screen Time
Studies have determined that watching computers and television before bed is detrimental to achieving healthy sleep. This is because screens give off blue light — something our bodies are used to receiving only from the daytime sun.
At night, our bodies don’t naturally see blue light, which cues them to start relaxing and prepare for sleep. However, the blue light from computer and TV screens tricks us into staying awake longer. Keeping children away from screens for at least an hour before bedtime will help their bodies calm down naturally.
Keep a Consistent Schedule, Especially While Traveling
Sure, the kids are out of school and it’s exciting to stay up late with family and friends from out of town. However, it’s important to make that the exception rather than the rule over the holidays. Shifting sleep schedules frequently or drastically can make your children overtired and cranky, and makes it especially difficult to transition back to their post-holiday schedule.
Try to adhere to the recommended amount of sleep for children at various ages or at least maintain a consistent bedtime that’s pretty close to their usual one. Transition from the later bedtime gradually before school starts to acclimate your kids back to their usual schedule.
If you’re traveling long distances, plan ahead for big time changes. Jet lag is a pain for us, but it’s much harder on kids who become overtired and cranky sooner.
Sunlight is the biggest factor in overcoming the effects of jet lag. Make sure everyone is getting up nice and early so their body feels the sunlight and their sleep clock can slowly adjust.
Planning activities outside where the whole family can walk around and be active is also a great way to ensure everyone is adjusting to the local schedule. Eat meals at the local time and plan for nap times if needed when kids become tired throughout the day.
Remember, sleep is not something to scrimp on during holiday excitement. Like everything involving kids, there’s not a single solution for every child. However, once you find something that works for your nighttime routine, stick with it. Consistency in the evening routine can make a world of difference whether you’re in a hotel, a relative’s guest room, or overseas for the holidays.
How do you keep your children’s sleep schedule consistent during the holiday season? Share in the comments below.
About the Author: Rosie Osmun is Creative Content Manager and writer at Amerisleep, a progressive memory foam brand focused on eco-friendly sleep solutions. She loves researching and writing about eco-friendly rest at the Amerisleep Blog and on Twitter.