Many of us struggle to sleep on the best of nights, never mind when we’re excited. On nights like Christmas Eve or before a birthday, it’s easy to become victim to the dreaded tossing and turning, willing sleep but never quite achieving it. If this sounds like you or your little ones, you’ll want to know why excitement can make it difficult to fall asleep and how to tackle it. Read on for our guide on how you can manage excitement and get a good sleep regardless of what’s in store the following day – whether that’s a job interview, a holiday, or that white-bearded guy and his herd of reindeer.
How do you control anxiety and excitement before sleep?
The first thing worth noting is that excitement and anxiety are temporary states of being. Generally speaking, 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, you’ll need to consider changing your approach to sleep with the following steps:
- 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 is usually the best bet.
- 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.
- 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 which help you sleep will help you manage anxiety too. This includes developing good habits with your diet, regular exercise, keeping your room decluttered, and cutting down on caffeine and high-sugar snacks. Put simply, leading a healthy lifestyle will help you control anxiety and sleep well, 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. If you can also incorporate something fun and active into the day, even better!
Another good tip 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 for Christmas. If your children are only young, it’s worth instilling this routine every year. For those a little older, it’s best to make sure they’re busy and active as much as possible through the day. This’ll mean 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 important to ensure the environment promotes sleep – this means keeping it dark and quiet. If your little ones don’t like the dark, consider investing in a night-light or leaving a hall or bathroom light on.
Can excitement cause insomnia?
Put simply, yes. While excitement is a psychological event, it inspires emotions which in turn create physiological responses. For example, 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 information on getting better sleep, view our Sleep Problems category.