Giving kids their Christmas dinner a day early is just one of the suggestions a sleep doctor has offered Belle About Town for parents trying to get kids a good night’s sleep on Christmas Eve.
Mum, and qualified sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, believes the answer to getting over excited kids to sleep before Father Christmas arrives lies in simply feeding them turkey for tea…
Recent research from the University of Leeds in colaboration with Silentnight beds found that the nation’s children are frequently exhausted, with 36% of children aged between six and 11 getting less than seven hours sleep a night – significantly lower than the NHS-recommended 10 hours.
In a bid to give kids a better night’s sleep over the festive period (and parents hope of a silent night!), Dr Nerina is calling for parents o roast their poultry a day early.
She told Belle About Town: “Turkey contains high levels of the tryptophan, an amino acid which promotes serotonin production. Eating turkey helps to stabilise blood sugar and when it’s eaten late in the afternoon or early evening it can induce sleepiness
“Throw tradition out the window and roast your turkey up for a delicious Christmas Eve supper. Children are going to be over excited and inevitably full of sugar in the run up to the big day so trying to stick to their usual routine and getting them to wind down early is unlikely to work. But a nice helping of turkey will counteract the sugar rush, and lead to deeper more restorative sleep, meaning you and your little ones will wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy on Christmas morning, and you won’t have to resort to threats of Father Christmas not visiting! There’s also no harm in eating some of the leftovers on Christmas day.”
Don’t fancy a turkey dinner? Here’s five more tips from Dr Nerina Ramlakhan on how to get kids to sleep on Christmas Eve:
1. Beware the ‘S’ word
Dr Nerina says: “As beloved a character as Santa is, many children are actually frightened by the thought of the man in the red suit coming down the chimney and into their bedrooms. If your little one is apprehensive, I’d recommend leaving stockings and other treats out of the bedroom and letting kids know that Santa will put all the presents in the living room. Knowing there won’t be anyone coming into their personal sleep space will make children more relaxed and hopefully less stressed about going to bed.”
2. Hide the festive chocolate
“Children need a good balance of the hormones serotonin and melatonin in their system to be able to drift off to sleep, and eating the right food is crucial for boosting these hormones. December can feel like a whirlwind of party food and festive chocolate but it’s important to make sure your little one eats foods that are high in serotonin. Good examples are chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts and milk.”
3. Wear them out
“There’s nothing like a big winter walk to tire children out over the holidays. If you’re serious about getting some sleep on Christmas Eve, plan as much physical activity for your children as you can during the day. Not only will the fresh air wear them out, but having time away from screen will stop them being wired and unable to sleep in the evening.”
4. Create a calm sleep environment
Dr Nerina says: “Bedrooms need to be sleep-friendly and this means a calm environment free from distractions. Keep the Christmas decorations, advent calendars and other reminders of the big day out of your little one’s room, they are unlikely to forget it’s Christmas Eve but making their sleep space as relaxing as possible can make a big difference.”
5. Stick to their normal routine
If you’re a stickler for bath, book, bed then don’t let the routine go out the window just because it’s Christmas Eve. Keeping to their regular bedtime and letting them wind down with a hot bath and a bedtime story should help with lulling them off to sleep.”
Belle’s top five sleep inducing snacks:
Walnuts and cashews (high in Tryptophan)
Cherries (high in melatonin)
Apricots and raisins (high in vitamin B6 to enhance the production of melatonin)
Seeds (high in potassium and magnesium to relax muscles)
Oranges (high in potassium)