December 16, 2022

Tips for maintaining good sleep habits during holiday breaks

VedaOT shares tips for helping families with autistic children maintain healthy sleep habits during the holidays.

Veda Collmer
Tips for maintaining good sleep habits during holiday breaks

Holidays come with a lot of excitement and stress, but they also can be filled with opportunities to create new traditions. Unfortunately, it's easy for the excitement and stress of the season to keep you up at night. If you want to enjoy all the fun holiday activities with your family, start by making sure everyone gets enough rest. The following tips will help keep your autistic child or loved one well-rested during this busy time:

No one wants to hear the word "routine" around the holidays

During the holidays, most of us are familiar with the feeling of dread that comes over us when we hear the word "routine." Whether it’s a change in your schedule or a disruption to your child’s routine, life can get chaotic. The holidays are meant to be fun and celebratory—and they should be! They also put stress on our lives and often throw off our normal routines. For autistic children especially, this can cause sleep problems.

Children with autism need structure and routine as much as other kids do; it helps them feel safe and calm. Even though holiday schedules often change from year to year or even week to week, there are ways for everyone in the family to have good sleep habits during this time of year.

Creating a schedule can help everyone enjoy the holiday season

If you’re like most parents, your schedule is already packed with activities, and the holidays are no exception. However, creating a schedule can help you and your autistic child manage the adjustments in routine. By planning ahead and including everyone in the planning process, families can ensure they have time to spend together participating in the traditions most important to them.

The first step to creating a successful family schedule is making sure everyone shares their input. Not only does this allow everyone’s wishes to be considered, but it also ensures everyone is on board with what will happen during those precious hours off from school and work.

Here are some tips for making sure everyone feels heard:

●   Make sure there’s an open dialogue about what each person wants out of their break from work or school; try not to make assumptions about what other people want because there may be concerns, they haven't voiced yet!

●   Let your autistic child know they will get at least one day off from whatever activities they normally do (frequent problem solvers may need more than one), but make sure there is plenty of non-stimulating entertainment available too (e.g., watching movies). If possible, plan outings where people can talk while doing something fun like going sledding!

Holiday travel can disrupt sleep

When it comes to sleep, the holidays can be a real bummer. Holidays mean travel and changes from normal routines, including maybe traveling across time zones, dealing with jet lag and other challenges. All these things are stressful, and stress can affect our ability to sleep well. If you're like most people, that's not what you want this time of year—especially if you're anticipating a lot of family visits or hosting an office gathering at your house.

But there are ways you can keep good habits during the holidays so that when all is said and done, everyone gets their restful night's sleep.

Create a good bedtime routine

As a parent, you're probably used to having a set bedtime routine that helps your child wind down at night. This can be a great way to encourage longer and deeper sleep. During the holidays, it can be difficult to stick with that same routine. You might want to tweak it so that it doesn't clash with what's going on around you. For example:

●   Bedtime rituals don't have to be the same every night

You may need more flexibility through the holidays. If your child stays up late on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve, then they may need more time to resume typical routines the days after a big night. Adjust their schedule accordingly so they aren't too tired when they wake up.

●   Create a calm environment for falling asleep

Using white noise in the background may help them focus on sleeping rather than all the outside distractions going on at home. Make sure their sleeping area suits their needs such as having black out curtains, or a nightlight. If they have a preferred pillow, take it with you if you travel. Keep the environment peaceful and calm. 

A soothing nightly routine works for children and adults

All of us need a bedtime routine that helps relax and rest at the end of the day. If you or your child has trouble falling asleep, try reading a book or listening to music as part of your nightly routine. You can also set up a "no electronics" rule before bed; this will help alleviate stress caused by digital devices. Studies show that people who get enough sleep are more productive and have improved mental health—and you'll feel great too!

If possible, try to follow these tips:

●   Stick to a consistent wake time (even on weekends)

●   Make sure you get enough sleep at night and during naps

●   Avoid oversleeping in the morning

Don’t add sleep deprivation to holiday stresses

Did you know that stress can make it harder to get a good night's sleep? Stress can lead to sleeplessness and fatigue, which in turn can cause anxiety—and this vicious cycle makes it even more difficult to wind down at the end of the day.

So how do you prevent stress from interfering with your sleep? Here are some tips:

●   Go on a technology detox. Unplugging from social media, electronics, and other distractions an hour before bedtime will help you clear your mind and relax. You don't need to stop using all technology for this strategy to work; just make sure not to check emails or texts after 8 p.m., since that may be too late for effective winding down time!

While routines may change during the holidays, try to keep your sleep schedule the same

Though you may not be able to completely avoid a disrupted sleep schedule during the holidays, there are ways to keep it from getting out of control. The most important thing is not to let your bedtime get too late and your wake-up time get too early.

Another good idea is to take naps in the afternoon, if possible, because doing so allows you more flexibility in when you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning.

If you can't nap during the day or decide that isn't something that works well with your lifestyle, consider adjusting what time of day you schedule social events—it's easier on everyone involved if parties aren't happening right before bedtime/

Use these tips to help keep your loved ones stay rested

●   Create a routine.

●   Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time.

●   Make sure you get enough sleep every night so that you're well rested for the day ahead. If you're feeling tired, take naps during the day if possible – this can help ensure that you'll have energy when it's time to go out with friends or family member safter work/school has ended for the day!

●   Make sure your room is dark and quiet before going to sleep; this will help relax both mind and body because it helps reduce distractions which could keep people from getting restful slumber at night (you know what we mean!). Also remember not to watch television shows or play video games on electronic devices right before going into

Bedtime routines will help everyone in the family

A bedtime routine is important for all ages, even if it’s just a quick trip to the bathroom or a few minutes of reading a story. We may not always be able to stick to our routines during busy holiday times, but having one helps everyone get into a rhythm and know what to expect when they go to bed at night.

It’s also important to make sure that your child knows how he or she can help around the house so that everyone has time for their own activities. If you have older kids who don’t want anything more than just their own bedtime ritual with mom and dad, then let them do as much as they can on their own—making dinner or setting up the Christmas tree are both great ways for kids who are old enough (and responsible enough) to give back some love during this season of giving!

We hope that these tips will help you and your loved ones get some much-needed rest. It can be difficult to stick with a consistent bedtime routine during the holidays, but if you take it slow and keep an eye on your stress levels, we think you’ll find success.

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