How to Sleep When You’re Excited

5 Min Read | By Liam Porter

Last Modified 31 March 2023   First Added 19 December 2018

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

We all know how much excitement and anxiety can make it difficult for us to drift off into the land of nod. Especially around the likes of Christmas – gifts galore, delicious food and meeting up with family and friends. How can we not be buzzing with joy? Then there’s that apprehensive feeling we all dread, the one that we just can’t shift at night. Our recent sleep survey found that 24% of people struggle to sleep because they are nervous about something the next day. But why exactly does it have this effect on us?

Well, according to research, when you’re stressed or excited your body creates more cortisol and adrenaline also known as epinephrine. They raise your heart rate making it tough for you to catch some Zs.

To help you overcome your late-night worries, we’ll look at how you can manage your excitement and look at what to do when you just can’t get to sleep. Whether it’s about a job interview, a holiday, or that white-bearded guy and his herd of reindeer – you can overcome it.

How do you control anxiety and excitement before sleep?

The first thing worth noting is that excitement and anxiety are temporary states of being. Any bodily response to excitement should level out within 20 minutes. Panic attacks and anxiety are similar – they will pass.

The problem, however, lies when we couple these temporary states with trying to sleep. As our anxiety or excitement fades, we replace it with stress around whether we’ll get to sleep or not – starting the process again. The result? Staring at the ceiling, pleading for sleep, and never quite getting there. To counteract this, changing your approach to sleep with these steps will help you get to sleep when you just, can’t:

  • Keep active throughout the day and avoid caffeine after 2 pm
  • Avoid screens and your phone for at least one hour before you sleep
  • Ensure the conditions of your room are right for promoting sleep – dark, quiet, and cool spaces are best
  • When in bed, focus on your breathing – doing this will help slow your heart rate and send signals to your body that it’s time to sleep
  • To draw your attention and stop worrying about your troubles, you could also concentrate on a word, phrase, mantra, or mental image
  • If you’re tossing and turning, get out of bed and engage in a calming activity that may induce sleep, such as reading or playing puzzles
  • Try The Military Sleep Method
  • Finally, and most annoyingly, stop worrying – you will get there in the end.

Unfortunately, recovering from anxiety is a little more difficult than getting over excitement. The good news is that all the factors that help you sleep will also help you manage anxiety. This includes developing good habits with your routine, diet, regular exercise, keeping your room decluttered, and cutting down on caffeine and high-sugar snacks. Put simply, leading a healthy lifestyle will benefit you when controlling anxiety and stop you from struggling to sleep, even on nights before a big day.

How can you get your child to sleep when they’re excited?

Considering even adults struggle to get to sleep when they’re excited, you can imagine how difficult it is for our little ones – especially when Santa’s expected!

The trick is to keep bedtime as close to their normal routine as possible. But before they’re off to sleep, you’ll want to keep them occupied. Having some activities or games planned in the early evening will help to keep them distracted while tiring them out. Even better if you can incorporate something fun and active into the day!

Another good tip to help your little one fall asleep quicker is to create a special routine on the day before the excitement hits. A pair of ‘birthday pyjamas’ and a new book to read before bed is a good idea.

The same applies to Christmas. If your children are only young, it’s worth instilling this routine every year. For those a little older and who can’t sleep from excitement, it’s best to keep them busy and active as much as possible throughout the day. This means that come bedtime, they should nod off pretty fast.

As with adults, you’ll want to keep them away from screens and electronics for at least an hour before bed. It’s also just as important to ensure the environment promotes sleep – this means keeping it dark and quiet. If your bambinos are scared of the dark, invest in a nightlight or leave a hall or bathroom light on. This will stop the night-time monsters from entering their bedroom, you know the ones from Monsters, Inc.

Make sure you prepare for Christmas with...

Can excitement cause insomnia?

Put simply, yes. While excitement is a psychological event, it inspires emotions, creating physiological responses. As we mentioned earlier, when excited, our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone and can increase blood pressure and heart rate – the exact opposite of what we want when trying to fall asleep.

Remember, if you often struggle to get to sleep, you should speak to your GP. For more help and advice check out our posts about Sleep Problems. And, before you go, take a look at our range of kid’s beds; it may be time to upgrade your child’s sleep space.

About the author

More from the Sleep Matters Club