The anticipation of Christmas often makes it difficult to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. You can overcome holiday excitement or jitters and have a restful night of sleep by following a few tips guaranteed to get you and your little ones to bed and Santa on his way.
Understanding Why You Can't Sleep
Christmas can bring up different feelings for everyone based on specific experiences with this holiday. It is not uncommon for many individuals to experience holiday anxiety and feel a ton of pressure to make sure Christmas goes as perfectly as possible. This can create a challenge when it comes to sleep. This not only impacts adults, but children alike.
Christmas Sleep Issues for Adults
Many adults experience holiday related sleep issues. Culturally there can be a ton of pressure placed on having a perfect Christmas filled with magical memories, amazing food, and special gifts, but that tends to not reflect the majority of people's holidays. Adults may have a hard time sleeping due to:
- Past holiday related trauma or negative memories
- Self imposed pressure to make Christmas a positive holiday
- Pressure to do things differently than their parents
- Nervousness about impressing family members and making the holiday special
- Overwhelmed with many tasks
- Excited or amped up about the holiday festivities
- Overly exhausted but can't sleep due to holiday excitement
- Feeling overwhelmed with happiness and having a hard time unwinding
Talking to Your Kids
Before trying to get your child to sleep, it's important to understand why they are having difficulty falling asleep. Take your time exploring how they are feeling prior to going to bed so you can help them establish good sleep hygiene. This will come in handy during more exciting or stressful times around Christmas. Help them label their emotions and process their feelings around what is keeping them awake. They may be experiencing:
- Holiday excitement and have a hard time calming down
- Pressure to act a certain way in front of extended family
- Social anxiety regarding Christmas parties
- Mixed emotions about Christmas after a family divorce, separation, or disconnect
- Anxiety feeding off of someone else's holiday jitters
Ways Adults Can Fall Asleep on Christmas Eve
Since Christmas Eve can stir up a lot of emotions, it can be helpful to stay organized so you can focus on relaxing. Finding healthy outlets can help you get a good night of sleep so you can fully enjoy Christmas Day.
Mindfulness can help you stay grounded so you can prioritize what the most important aspect of Christmas is in your family. During the practice of mindfulness you allow your thoughts to float by simply observing them without judgment. If any anxiety or excitement around Christmas pops up, mindfulness meditation can help ground you so you can unwind and get a good sleep.
Have a Sleep Mantra Ready
Sleep mantras can help you during moments where sleep seems impossible. Continue to repeat your mantra to yourself in a soft, low voice either aloud or in your head. This can help you relax, refocuses your energy, and can take your mind off of whatever thoughts are popping up. Examples of sleep mantras that can help you out during Christmas Eve include:
- Everything will get done
- Everything is going to work out
- Christmas won't be perfect, but it will be filled with fun moments
- Christmas means spending time with family
- Christmas can be stressful but I will get through it
- I have tons of help and support to make Christmas great
- I'm as prepared as I can be tonight
- I will allow myself to rest tonight
- Even if I'm awake, I'm still resting
Plan Christmas as much as you can so that by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, you've accomplished everything and can relax with your family and get a good night of sleep. If you have a few leftover tasks, ask for help, and jot down what needs to get done so you won't be worried about forgetting anything come Christmas Day. Some things you may need to include on your list:
- Making food or baking goodies for a holiday party or family dinner
- Finishing up chores or errands
- Wrapping presents and hiding them
- Delivering presents to friends and family
- Setting up decorations
Helping Your Kids Sleep on Christmas Eve
Kids may feel excited, nervous, sad, or anxious depending on how they view Christmas and the accompanying festivities. Speak with your child in a calm way about how they are feeling, even if it's not the emotional response you were anticipating from them. Talking through their emotional process promotes a healthy, loving bond and can feel extra comforting, especially during times of heightened emotions. Providing unconditional love and support can help them rest easy come Christmas Eve.
Tire Your Little Ones Out
If your little one is full of Christmas excitement, try a few activities to tucker them out. Be sure to factor in how long it takes them to unwind prior to bedtime and consider adding a little extra time on Christmas Eve. You can:
- Bake cookies with your family and decorate them for Santa.
- Make Christmas tree ornaments with your children.
- Play a board game with your family.
- Carve out time for a family movie.
- Allow kids to open one present on Christmas Eve to diffuse some of their excitement and anticipation.
- Drive or walk through a highly decorated neighborhood.
At least an hour before bedtime, start the winding down process. Discuss with them what will be happening the next day and how much you look forward to your family's plans for the holiday. You can also incorporate:
- A warm bath with relaxing music
- A Christmas related bedtime story
- A soft Christmas music playlist to fall asleep to
The Art of Rocking and Singing
Nothing lulls you to sleep faster than continuous repetitive motion, especially the motion of a rocking chair. If your children are still small, take advantage of this way to nurture them as well as help them fall asleep on this exciting night. Humming and singing your child's favorite Christmas tune in a soft voice can be a nice way to relax them as well.
Have a Warm Drink
Snuggle up and enjoy some tea or warm milk with your child before bedtime. Make sure the lights are dimmed and you are listening to soft music or are speaking to them in a low, soft voice to encourage sleepiness.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene Before the Holidays
Setting yourself and your child up for a good night of sleep can take some time to get the hang of. If possible, work on establishing good sleep hygiene well before Christmas rolls around. That way, when you or your child is feeling a bit restless, you'll already have a solid routine to fall back on. This can make settling down a bit easier.
At least an hour before bedtime, try to avoid all screen time, or dim screens and lights as much as possible. This prevents bright lights from interrupting your circadian rhythm. You can consider:
- If you have lights on a dimmer switch, turn the setting to low.
- You can create a calming ambience in the den with candles. Be sure you don't leave burning candles unattended.
- Turn on the Christmas tree lights so your family can enjoy its beauty. You may prefer to turn off all other lights to let the tree lights fill the room.
Aromatherapy has many benefits, including its effects on the mind and emotions. Take advantage of this valuable relaxation tool with lavender and other scents known to promote relaxation and sleep. Be sure to consult with a doctor before using aromatherapy around a child, pregnant or nursing mother, and your pets. You can consider:
- Placing a lavender sachet inside a pillowcase.
- If you prefer incense, choose pine or cedarwood to set a calming mood. Incorporate a Christmas vibe with the lighting of frankincense and myrrh incense.
- Diffuse your favorite scent in your bedroom or around the house.
- Taking a warm lavender bath or using lavender lotion.
Calming Music Playlist
Create a Christmas playlist of your favorite carols and songs. Select vocal and instrumental arrangements that are soothing, such as Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song.
Add Frank Sinatra's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to your playlist.
Michael Bublé's Silent Night is a must for your Christmas Eve music.
You can continue to play these softly in the background as you prepare for bedtime.
Getting a Good Night's Sleep on Christmas Eve
There are many things you can do to ensure your family can fall asleep on Christmas Eve without it becoming a major challenge. By planning ahead and knowing how your evening will unfold, you can maintain control over bedtime and allow Santa plenty of time to relax while delivering his presents.