The Holiday Sleep Hangover

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Whether you travelled this winter break, had family come stay or just let the rules sleep a little, the Holiday Sleep Hangover is real!

Once you’re back to reality, you may find getting your littler ones back into the swing of things to be met with some resistance.  Whether you are fighting them to go to bed at the appropriate time, managing tantrums or even contending with night wakings, there are some things you can do to get everyone back in shape.

Here are some tips to help you transition back to your regular sleeping routine:

  1. Back to the Grind.  Start with getting your days set up as usual.  Eat meals around the usual time as always.  Cut out sugary snacks, and drinks.  Maybe even complete a chore or two.  Use the clock to get your schedule back to normal.  Even though the kids will fight you here and there, they secretly love knowing what to expect out of their day.

  2. Consistency is Key.  Try not to give into “one more book” or “five more minutes” or any other kind of negotiations.  It seems harmless, but in the grand scheme of things, this delay tactic can get out of control quickly.  You don’t have to start from the very beginning with rules, but it’s important to have a no-nonsense approach to what the expectations are now that the holiday is over.
  3. Decrease Screen Time.  One hour before bed is usually the “right” time to turn off your screens, but while you’re adjusting back to a normal routine, consider reducing your screen times even more for a few days.  Why?  Blue light emitted by most devices confuses your brain to think it’s still day time.  The gland that produces melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel sleepy, fall asleep and stay asleep) will not produce as well if your brain is telling it that it’s actually day time. This decrease in melatonin can make it harder for a child or adult to feel sleepy enough to get to bed.  Reducing screen time is a great way to help your body work with its natural hormones to get better sleep.
  4. Reinforce the Rules. Vacation is a special time where the rules get to be broken, that one of the reasons it’s so fun and special.  Once you come home though, life returns to normal, and that means rules and chores and sleep expectations too.  I suggest trying to start the “normal” routine a few days before work and school actually starts to allow some time for everyone to adjust back to an earlier schedule.
  5. Give it time.  Last but not least, expect it to take a week to 10 days for things to feel like they are back to normal.  All of the excitement and late nights and snacks and fun can take a toll on a little person.  One of the biggest challenges I have is reminding parents that these things take time, and even with the best plans, it still can take longer than we’d like.  If you’re consistent and patient, nights will get back to normal in no time!

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