Preventing Scary Halloween Sleep!

trick or treaters
Christine Brown

Christine Brown

The Halloween costumes are bought and your kids are SO excited for trick or treat, but in the back of your head you’re thinking “trick or treat is going to kill my kids’ sleep!”  If you are anything like me, you don’t want to be a scrooge (wrong holiday!), but you really want your kids to get good sleep so they are happy and healthy, right?

Come close…a little confession from me – I’m not crazy about my kids’ behavior when they’ve had a lot of sugar!  They turn into what I call twinadoes!  Are you with me?

Here are some quick tips to help you prepare your kids and yourself to not only have a lot of fun, but also preserve sleep this Halloween.

#1 Go into the Holiday Well Rested

Ensure that your children have adequate rest leading up to the night of trick or treat.  Ensure either a good, restorative nap or quiet time before heading out for the night’s festivities.  And the week leading up to the holiday, ensure you are sticking pretty close to their schedule so they are getting their required amount of sleep.  Children who are better rested navigate disruptions to their schedule much easier and get back on track quicker, which will help a sleep debt from building.

#2 Plan Ahead

Come up with a game plan.  Talk with your spouse or partner to determine:

  • What time your children will start trick or treating
  • How far you’ll be going
  • What time you’ll be going home
  • How the bedtime routine will be altered for the night.

If you are on the same page, it will be easier to discuss the plan, in an age-appropriate way, with your children so they can know what to expect.

Give your children plenty of notice of when the fun is coming to an end.  “We are visiting 4 more houses and then we are heading home to check out our candy and get ready for bed!”

Try to set limits around candy intake – this one can be hard – especially with older children.

Also, before heading out for trick-or-treat, make sure that you’ve got their pajamas out and everything ready to streamline the routine once you get home. 

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#3 Start Trick-or-Treat Early

Start trick or treating on the early side of the window, especially for the little ones.  This will enable your child to have plenty of fun, but it will also help to preserve a reasonable bedtime and fit in at least a short bedtime routine.  If you aren’t feeling super rushed, it will allow you to relax and enjoy, without feeling that internal pressure.

A bedtime swing of 30 minutes for toddlers and preschoolers won’t significantly affect them.  But keep in mind that you really don’t want to extend much beyond that time frame.

#4 Prepare for Bedtime

I recommend offering a protein-rich and complex carbohydrate-rich, low sugar snack before bed.  It will help with the sugar crash if they have something of substance in their tummies at bedtime.

Shorten your bedtime routine some, but ensure that it still gives the opportunity for calming and connecting:

  • Skip the bath for a sponge bath
  • Brush teeth REALLY good!
  • Have pajamas set out and prepare the bedroom before you go out for the night
  • Instead of two books, shorten it to one

#5 Expect Some Curtain Calls

When children are hopped up on sugar and coming off of a lot of fun, it is normal for them to try to delay going to bed to prolong the fun.  Stay consistent with your bedtime routine and stay lovingly firm with your expectations.  If they know the limits and you stick with them, the stalling tactics should stay to a minimum and won’t push bedtime even later.

 #6 Comfort Bad Dreams

If your child wakes from a bad dream or scared by something that they saw on Halloween, comfort them because the fear is real for them.  Remember to stay calm and don’t make a big deal out of it so they don’t use this as an attention technique in the future.  In the morning, if they want to talk about their dream, reassure them that monsters aren’t real and that everything on Halloween is make believe.  Keep reinforcing that message if they continually bring it up.

If your child can’t move past something that scared them on Halloween and they continue talking about it and acting fearful, you may want to try the Name It To Tame It exercise. 

#7 Monitoring Candy Consumption After Halloween

My husband and I usually help our children with this by eating most of our favorites out of their stash!  Mine is Almond Joy and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! My hubby loves gummy and sour candies!  Head on over to Facebook and tell me yours!

In all seriousness, you want to ensure that your children aren’t eating candy before bed every night after Halloween. This can push your child’s time that they fall asleep later due to the sugar rush and the caffeine in chocolate.

What also happens it when we experience a blood sugar drop? Our bodies naturally produce stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline), which can wreak havoc on sleep.  These sleep challenges can include night waking’s and early morning wake ups.  That doesn’t sound like fun at all!

Tip: Instead of treats after dinner, try offering one or two treats right after school.  This will give their bodies a chance to stabilize their blood sugar before bedtime.

This year, we are donating all of our leftover candy to overseas veterans – look to see if you can find a program locally that is collecting candy.

To sum it up, have fun with Halloween trick or treating with your littles! Use the tips above to help preserve sleep! For ongoing tips, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

If you need help getting back on track or creating healthy sleep habits from the start, that’s what we do!  Reach out to schedule a discovery call today and we can talk about teaching your little one to be a healthy sleeper!

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