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The Top Sleep Tips to Survive the Holidays

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The excitement of the holidays means disruption to children’s sleep. We’ve got the top sleep tips to keep everyone feeling rested during the holidays. 

Child sleeping at fire place on Christmas eve under decorated tree. Family celebrating Christmas at home. Kids sleep. Presents at fire place. Little girl under blanket in winter holidays pajamas.

Does the thought of visiting family, travel and holiday festivities leave you feeling anxious about how this will impact your kid’s sleep?  Will your holiday season be restful or will sleep be a struggle as your kids get out of their normal routine?  If the thought of your little ones being up all night during the holidays has you feeling like a Grinch, our sleep tips can help you navigate the holiday season with everyone feeling rested.

Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine Before the Holidays

One of our top tips for good sleep with kids whether it is the holidays, or summer is to establish a consistent sleep routine. When parents carry out a consistent sleep routine prior to naptime and bedtime, children have an easier time settling and staying asleep.  When we travel over the holidays we create inconsistency.  Our children aren’t in their own home, playing with their own toys, eating their usual food or sleeping in their own beds.  But, if we use the same sleep routine on the road as we do every day at home, children can adapt to the change in environment. The sleep routine is a familiar, consistent reminder that sleep is just around the corner whether they’re at home or on the road.

Mom reading a bedtime story to daughter on her bed with a lamp on

Holiday Sleep Tips

  1. Make sure your kids have a comfortable place to sleep. If you are traveling, call ahead to see what kind of accomodations the place you will be staying has. Do they have a crib, pack and play, pull out couch? If they don’t have what you need, I have some recommendations we have used over the years that have been really great for my kids:
  2. Setup a Base Camp. If you are visiting several different relatives that are close, try to just stay at one place to establish some familiarity for your kids.
  3. Balance fun and sleep. Sleeping in a room full of cousins sounds like an amazing time – until the next day when all the kids are tired, irritable, and out of whack. If you are staying multiple nights, suggest having a ‘cousin sleepover’ on the last night instead of every night. Your kids will be able to create better memories during the day with their cousins if they are well rested than at night for a few extra hours.
  4. Bring Sleep Accessories. Good sleep is worth packing a few extra things. A favorite stuffed animal, night light and sound machine are great things to bring to help everyone sleep better.
  5. Bedtime Bend. There is usually a lot going on during the holidays and if there is an event, a party or a special occasion, it is ok to bend your kids bedtime. You don’t want them to miss out on special holiday events, but you don’t want them to get to the point of exhaustion, either. A good rule of thumb is for kids under 10, let them stay up an hour later than normal.
  6. Back to Routine. After a late holiday night, it is tempting to let kids sleep in as long as possible. Sleeping in can throw off that night’s bedtime, resulting in a routine that’s off-kilter for days. The morning after an exciting holiday party, let your kids sleep in up to 30 minutes later than normal, and accept that they’ll be tired that day. Plan for an earlier bedtime that night. Even one good night’s sleep will help kids bounce back from party-induced overtiredness quickly, and help everyone enjoy the holidays!

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

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