Halloween is one of the most exciting times of year, whether you’re a kid or adult. But with all the distractions and schedule disruptions, it can be challenging get a proper night’s sleep. Parents may find it difficult not just on October 31st, but for days before and after too. Here are a few of the most common issues preventing a good night’s sleep around Halloween, and tips on what you can do about it.
Too much excitement
Dressing up in a costume, playing Halloween games at school or work, and eating lots of candy—what’s not to love? But all that excitement and the stress associated with it can make falling asleep difficult, for kids and adults alike.
For parents, one solution can be to harness your kids’ excitement about the holiday to help them get into bed. Find books about Halloween to read to them, or try telling a Halloween-inspired bedtime story. Talk through the fun activities planned for the next few days, or ask them to talk about their favourite moments. On special days such as Halloween it’s especially important for all of us to mind these top tips for healthy sleep habits for kids, including sticking to your standard routine and sleep schedule. If you’re attending Halloween festivities, events or trick-or-treating, try to start early in the evening, so you can get home at a reasonable time to get your young ones and yourself out of your costumes and into your pajamas. Naps can help too.
Zombies wandering city streets, horror movies on TV, weird people wearing masks, frighteningly carved pumpkins—there is much to be afraid of around Halloween, especially for kids. These fears can become crystalized when we’re headed to bed, preventing us from falling asleep or inducing bad dreams.
To help kids in such situations, experts suggest employing empathy(1)—acknowledging that the child is afraid even if it seems irrational to you. For all of us, it helps to name what we’re afraid of, in specific terms, then evaluate whether the fear is warranted. Talking through the issue can help anyone overcome such worries. Also, if you know scary movies cause you to have nightmares, don’t watch them!
We love candy
A study(2) from earlier this year found that what we eat impacts how we sleep. Specifically, high sugar and saturated fat and low fiber intake is associated with “lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.”
If the over-supply of Halloween candy seems to be impacting your kids’ or your own sleep, start by ensuring you’re eating regular meals and filling up on healthy foods. Try to institute a quota of how much Halloween candy gets eaten each day, and incorporate your treats into dessert, rather than adding another snack session later on.
With a little planning and common sense, October 31 doesn’t have to be terrifying for your sleep schedule. Happy Halloween!
2. St-Onge MP et al. Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 Jan;12(1):19-24.