Getting your kids sleep routines back on track after the holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate our faiths, connect with friends and family, eat lots of yummy food, drink wine, and hopefully sleep in a little; if your child doesn't wake up everyday at 5:30am like mine does....Sigh! 

With all this activity parents often let the bedtime routines slide a little, miss naps, and well, basically compromise their routines and schedules. So with the first day of school around the corner, we contacted our sleep expert, Krista Guenther owner of SLEEPERIFIC, for her tips on how to get back on track with your family's sleep schedule after the holidays.

We asked Krista what the main signs are for an overtired child, besides a complete public meltdown, and how to re-instate the routine. 

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Some signs of overtiredness for your children include:
1) Falling asleep in their car seat or stroller, even when it’s not around nap/bedtime or on the shortest trips.
2) Waking from naps or in the morning grumpy.
3) Difficulty waking the child in the morning.
4) Early morning risings (generally before 5:30AM) or possibly other night wakings which aren’t related to hunger.
5) “Tired but wired” behaviour. The child appeared drowsy earlier, but as the day or evening wears on, the child is energetic, having trouble settling, lying quietly for their nap or bedtime (think along the lines of a second wind).
6) Fussiness/clingy, general mood decline, especially in the late afternoon or early evening.

If you’ve been noticing these things, it’s likely a good idea to try to get sleep back on track!  Some suggestions:

1)      Regular bedtimes – Family and social engagements, along with days where the family is home from work, childcare or school mean that families likely deviated from their regular napping and bedtime schedules.  Our bodies are designed to sleep best with regular bedtimes and regular wake times.  Reinforce the typical routines that worked well for your family in the past. 

2)      Cut the tech – Perhaps Santa brought some new high tech gadgets and technology this Christmas.  We know screen time impacts the onset and quality of sleep, for children and adults alike.  If you or your child are having trouble winding down in the evening, cut the television, computers, tablets and smartphones, at least 1 hour before bed, potentially greater for those that may be more sensitive to the impacts of technology.   

3)      Healthy diet – Calorie rich foods have likely been a theme over the holidays.  Heavy meals, especially late in the day can disrupt sleep by increasing reflux in prone bodies, but also impacting sleep quality by having an active digestive system. Being hungry can disrupt sleep as much as being over-full. Encourage eating big meals at least 2 hours before bedtime for older children, possibly with a small, healthy snack before bed.

4)      Physical activity and outdoor time - Combine the shortened daylight hours with bone chilling temperatures, and we’re all prone to hibernate.  We’re less likely to get outside for physical activity, especially with our children.  Prioritize time for even short bursts of physical activity during the light hours of the day. Consider moving activities indoors with child friendly gymnasiums and indoor play centres.

Krista Guenther

 If you would like to learn more about sleep expert Krista Guenther, please have a look at her website: