How to Get Sleep Schedules Back on Track After The Holidays.
Guest Post | Whitney Roban, Ph.D.
Everyone needs a break from the regular routine and that is exactly what the holidays provide for us. Whether you are experiencing the sun, surf and sand on a tropical vacation or the coziness of a staycation relaxing in PJ’s in your home, the holiday break allows us to forget about our fast paced and super scheduled lives for just a little while.
Unfortunately, when this much needed break is over it is often difficult to get our families back into the daily grind, this includes refocusing our efforts to get our children back on a daily sleep schedule.
By the end of our holiday break, most children will be significantly sleep deprived. We allow our children later bedtimes when school is not in session and often shy away from any sleep routines as well. However, most of us will find that even though our children are going to bed later, they are most certainly not sleeping in the next day. In fact, the opposite is often the case.
When children fall asleep too late at night, they most likely awake too early the next day. This continuous daily sleep pattern over the holidays causes children to be constantly overtired, which in turn causes night wakings and early risings, which then puts children in a cycle of sleep deprivation which is difficult to break.
I’d like to offer up some advice to parents which will help get your children’s sleep schedules and healthy sleep habits back on track after the holidays:
- Several days before school begins again, start moving your children’s bedtimes earlier by 15 minutes each night so that they are back on an appropriate bedtime before school begins. For example, if your child normally has an 8:00 bedtime but has been going to sleep at 9:00 during the holidays, starting 4 days before break is over, move your child’s bedtime to 8:45pm. The next night move it earlier to 8:30. The following night bedtime will be 8:15. By the fourth night, your child’s bedtime will once again be 8:00 and should stay that way for the rest of the school year.
- If you have done away with a brief and consistent bedtime routine during the holidays, begin implementing that routine as your start to move the bedtime earlier. Routines are calming for both children and parents. They also help to lower anxiety as children will know what is coming next during bedtime.
- For younger children, make sure you once again commit to a nap routine and schedule if you have veered off naps during the holidays. Remember that day sleep affects night sleep, and children will sleep much better at night when they fall asleep well rested from daily naps.
- Over the holidays many children are allowed to sleep in strollers, cars, and even in their parents’ bed. In order for children to return to healthy sleep habits, make sure your children are being put down to sleep awake and allow them to fall asleep independently and unassisted. Their bedroom environment should be dark, quiet, cool and safe.
- Holidays often consist of a lot of parties in and outside the home with friends and family, many taking place in the evening hours. Towards the end of the holiday break, avoid these night time get togethers if possible, so that you can commit once again to early bedtimes. It is also important that all stimulating activities such as rough and tumble play as well as electronics are completed at least one hour before bedtime.
Both during and after the holiday break, unhealthy sleep habits can infiltrate and stick around for a long time if not dealt with appropriately and expediently. The good news, however, is that all unhealthy sleep habits can be broken with a committed sleep plan and sleep rules, consistent sleep routines and schedules, and confidence in you and your child that you can once again have a well rested family.
Happy holidays and Happy New Year to all!
PEDIATRIC SLEEP SPECIALIST | PARENT & CORPORATE WELLNESS EDUCATOR
Founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, Dr. Whitney Roban considers sleep a necessity, not a luxury. She lives and works by one philosophy: parenting is one of the hardest jobs, made even more difficult when a family doesn’t sleep. Her mission is to give the gift of sleep to families through her information dissemination and emotional support based sleep training system, as well as her parent and corporate wellness education workshops.
With a Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University, Whitney began her career creating psycho-educational books and games for Childswork/Childsplay. She then took her expertise to the Girl Scout Research Institute where she authored national research studies in the youth market and reported the results in various media outlets such as television and radio. After taking time off from her professional life to be a mom, during which time she sleep trained her own children, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL and has helped hundreds of children and their parents sleep soundly every night.
A native of New York, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ in 2005 while living in Los Angeles. She currently lives in New York with her two children, ages 10 1/2 and 13. Dr. Roban is now devoting her time away from her two very well rested sons to help other parents and caregivers struggling with childhood sleep problems.