6 Tricks to Get the Kids to Sleep Before Santa Arrives

Baby Sleep

How To Get The Kids To Sleep Christmas Eve


All three of my children raced downstairs this morning to open their advent calendars for that little square of chocolate. I’m not sure if they are more excited to open the little cardboard door because Christmas is coming soon or because of the chocolate!

Either way, as they countdown the days until Christmas, their wish lists continue to grow and the excitement for Santa’s arrival builds.

They are at that perfect age where they still believe in Santa and the magic around Christmas.

“Santa won’t come unless you’re asleep!”

Christmas Eve is usually a busy time and getting the children to settle at bedtime before Santa shows up can be a challenge.

What happens when your children are too excited for Santa and they can’t sleep?

Author Dr Dina Kulik - Kids Health Books

Here are 6 tricks to get the kids to sleep before Santa arrives.

1. Avoid Too Much Sugar and Caffeine

Limit the sugar and caffeine that your children eat right before bed.

Dr Dina Kulik - Kids Health Blog - christmas and kidsWhen we eat sugar, it raises our blood sugar level, triggering the body to release the hormone insulin to bring your blood sugar level back to normal. This rapid fluctuation in hormones can make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine, which can be found in chocolate (or hot chocolate!) will also keep your child awake past their bedtime. Parents – you may want to limit the holiday eggnog too as alcohol causes restless sleep and more frequent night waking once the initial effects wear off.

2. Avoid Scary Movies

Christmas movies may seem like a fun idea, but be careful which movie you select for your family. For instance, A Christmas Carol has a nice ending, but even I find the ghosts a little scary! To avoid difficulty falling asleep and the potential for nightmares and scary dreams, limit the exposure to images that young children may find frightening, even if they say they aren’t scared!

3. Set the Mood

Help your children get drowsy before bedtime by dimming the lights in the house and limiting the exposure to electronics about one hour before bed.

Dr Dina Kulik - Kids Health Blog - christmas and kidsBy avoiding the exposure to bright lights, the body is able to naturally prepare for sleep.

This increases the production of melatonin, which helps us get nice and drowsy before bed.

4. Sing Christmas Carols

Singing has a wonderful calming effect, so to help your children relax and wind down before bed try singing a few Christmas Carols.

It may also take the focus off Santa and help them drift off to sleep.

5. Keep Your Consistent Bedtime Routine

With all the hustle and bustle, it’s tempting to rush the bedtime routine or even cut out a few steps, but the familiarity of your child’s routine will help them relax and fall asleep faster.

If you’re concerned your child’s routine may drag on because they are excited about Santa coming, set a timer ahead of time. At the beginning of your child’s bedtime routine, have them set a timer for 15-30 minutes.

Explain to them that once the timer goes off, it’s time to say goodnight and go to sleep.

Dr Dina Kulik - Kids Health Blog - christmas and kids

6. Avoid a Late Bedtime

It’s always tempting to stay up a little later on Christmas Eve, but when your children become overtired, there is an increase in adrenaline and cortisol which makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Cortisol can remain the body for several hours which can cause restless sleep through the night.

Keeping your children up late may not only make it harder for your children to sleep, but they’ll also be in a cranky mood on Christmas Day!

I encourage you to try these 6 tricks to help your child fall asleep before you say things like “Santa won’t come unless you’re asleep!”

Well meaning phrases like that may cause them to worry that Santa won’t come, which makes it even harder to fall asleep!

As long as you practice good sleep hygiene, your children should be in a nice deep sleep so that Santa can come down the chimney on Christmas Eve!


Jenn Kelner, CPA CA

Written By: Jenn Kelner, CPA CA

Jenn Kelner is a mother of three children, including twins, and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz. Just as every family is unique, Jenn supports many different sleep methods and works directly with families to design a solution that will help them become well-rested, happy families.

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