10 Tips to Fall Asleep on Christmas Eve (for Kids of All Ages)

Not a creature was stirring, and that means you, too. We've got you covered with tips to sleep so Santa can visit.

Updated November 29, 2023
Fall Asleep on Christmas Eve

You know the kids will be up before dawn to see what Santa brought them, but trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve can feel impossible — and not just for kids. We all get a little over-excited right before this magical holiday.

Amid all the tossing and turning, I always end up asking myself, "Why can't I sleep on Christmas Eve?" Turns out, the holiday insomnia makes perfect sense. The season can bring a ton of anxiety for people, and even happy holiday excitement is a high-energy feeling. The trick is burning off that energy before bed and then ramping down emotionally when it's time to sleep.

Go for a Walk to See Christmas Lights Before Bed

Before you set out the cookies for Santa and do your whole holiday bedtime routine, get rid of some of that excess energy with a brisk walk around your neighborhood to see the lights. My family loves looking at all the decorations and choosing the best ones, and doing this on foot lets you take your time really looking at the lights as you walk by. This doesn't have to be a long walk (especially if it's as cold where you live as it is by my house), but just getting out and moving will help a ton.

Do a Little Yoga to "Silent Night"

If it's too cold to stroll the neighborhood or you want to burn off a little more energy, yoga is another great option. Doing yoga before bed can help you sleep anytime, but it's fun to play some chill Christmas carols in the background and make it part of your holiday tradition. We like "Silent Night" as a relaxing Christmas song, but you can pick anything that doesn't feel too high energy (probably not the time for "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree").

Quick Tip

What's more, these strategies are really the Christmas gift that keeps on giving. You can use some version of them to get to sleep long after the Christmas decorations are put away.

Opt for a Holiday Story Instead of a Christmas Movie

If you're like me, you love a great Christmas movie. The thing is, watching TV or staring at a screen before bed can actually interfere with your sleep by messing with your body's normal sleep and wake cycles. Instead of watching It's a Wonderful Life this Christmas Eve, read a Christmas book or poem instead. There are tons to choose from, and it's a festive way to wind down.

Mother reads book to child in bed at Christmas
Quick Tip

With so many Christmas stories to choose from, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Our pick for all ages is the classic A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement C. Moore. It's all about the excitement of the holiday (and even the insomnia that goes with it), but the rhythm and rhyme are totally soothing.

Skip the Nighttime Cookies (Unless You're Santa)

Christmas is packed with delicious goodies, but they might not help you fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Instead of cookies or sweet holiday treats before bed, it's way better to go for something less sugary if you want to get some rest. We're not saying you can't have the cookies; just have them tomorrow (or early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve). Instead, popcorn makes a great snack. It still feels special and fun, but it's not going to get everyone all sugared up.

Sit in the Dark With Your Christmas Tree

It's always a good idea to start dimming the lights as bedtime gets closer, but Christmas offers an extra-festive way to make that happen. We love to turn off all the lights in the house except for the Christmas tree and sit in the dark enjoying its beauty. You can play quiet Christmas carols if your family likes music.

Small toddler girl looking at Christmas tree

Practice Holiday Mindfulness Before Bed

Your holiday to-do list has been a mile long, and the schedule has probably been pretty intense lately. It's no wonder your mind might be racing when it's time to sleep on Christmas Eve. One good way to settle it down is to be mindful and just focus on being in this moment. You can do this as a whole family before you go to bed.

Quick Tip

I'm not the best at staying in the moment, so my Christmas mindfulness strategy is about focusing on my senses. Luckily, Christmas has a ton of sensory aspects, like the smell of the tree, the sound of a crackling fire, or the cozy warmth of a cup of tea. Close your eyes and tune into those lovely experiences.

Go to Bed at the Normal Time on Christmas Eve

In my family, Christmas Eve is an action-packed day. There's all the usual last-minute holiday stuff, plus hanging stockings and setting up for Santa. The thing is, staying up late can actually make it harder to calm down and rest. If you've ever lived with a toddler, you've seen this in action. Get your holiday tasks done earlier in the day and stick to your normal bedtime for a good night's sleep on Christmas Eve.

Play Some White Noise in Your Bedroom

If you find yourself (or your kids) listing for the "prancing and pawing of each little hoof," white noise can be a huge help. It's also handy if you want to mask the noise of Santa while your kids are in bed. If you've already got a white noise machine, you're good to go. If not, download an app or haul the box fan out of the basement to create a steady hum.

Don't Look at the Clock Once You're in Bed

Once your head hits the pillow on Christmas Eve, consider it a non-clock zone. You know those kids are going to be up at the crack of dawn (or even before), so it's masochistically tempting to watch the clock and stress about how little sleep you're going to get. Unless you need to know the time for some reason, turn your alarm clock so it's not facing the bed. We promise it will help with that holiday insomnia.

Father tucking daughter into bed
Quick Tip

You can't settle down if the kids aren't settled, so it's good if you can help your child sleep on Christmas Eve. Kids struggle with many of the same issues as adults (although they might be even more excited). These Christmas Eve sleep tips work for everyone in the family, so try them with the kids, too.

Try Some Christmas Eve Sleep Mantras

A mantra is a message you repeat over and over to yourself — usually something you really need to hear. On Christmas Eve, that's probably a reassuring statement about having everything done or being totally ready for the festive chaos of the morning. Here are a few I'm planning to keep in mind this Christmas Eve:

  • Christmas won't be perfect, but it will be amazing.
  • I have tons of help and support to make Christmas great.
  • I'm as prepared as I can be tonight.
  • I've worked hard to make this holiday special, and I will allow myself to rest tonight.
  • I can sleep now so Santa can come.

Settle Down for a Long Winter's Nap

Unless you're Santa himself (who needs to stay awake to deliver all those toys), knowing how to sleep on Christmas Eve is one of those essential life skills that will just make your holiday way better. This holiday, you've got everything you need to settle down for a long winter's nap, and you totally deserve the rest.

10 Tips to Fall Asleep on Christmas Eve (for Kids of All Ages)