Sleep After the Holidays

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Every year, this meme comes up on my newsfeed or IG stories at least once:

After days of parties, presents, and treats I think everyone is feeling a bit of that Christmas “hangover”.

It’s good for us to have a step back from our usual routine and do something a little different, see people we don’t usually see.

But, there’s that shock to the system January 2nd when everything is back to “usual”. For your child with special needs, it’s important that bounce back is a smooth transition.

Here’s my top recommendations for a holiday “detox” for the whole family:

Get back on to your routines ASAP

This might seem like an obvious one, but the holidays will throw off our routines a little bit or a lot! This is routine around diet, daily schedule, bedtime, morning time, and more.

Getting back to your usual routines is important for your child to feel confident and “grounded” for the day ahead, especially when we’re right back into school, therapy, and more.

Even if your child has a routine they’ve done a thousand times, consider putting it in writing and add the images to go along with it, at least for a few days. This will help your child to feel oriented and will keep them on task. This can also help to keep protest, requests for 5 more minutes, etc. at bay.

I know that taking the first step to get back on track is the toughest to make, so put a date on your calendar for the official reset and set a reminder!


Make a daily visual schedule

Visual schedules are great to prepare your child for what’s going to change in the day to day, but to get them feeling oriented again after a holiday break. Ideally, you want to start this a couple days before the schedule shifts back. But, even if you start right after the holiday that’s fine too.

And, keep the visual schedule simple! It doesn’t have to be to the minute everything your child is going to do. It’s more important to highlight if they’re changing location and who they’ll be with.

Here’s a quick example:

Wake up and get ready for school with Mom

School with Ms. Smith

Therapy with Mr. White

Drive home with Dad

Play time with Dad

Dinner as a family

Bedtime routine with Mom


Prioritize healthy meals and snacks

We all know that your child most likely was off what their usual diet is (who’s isn’t this time of year?) Sometimes, that tiny amount of sugar or something out of the ordinary can throw off sleep. But, when there’s nothing to be up for the next day, you can afford later mornings.

As the date to go back to school and therapy draws near, start to give your child healthier and more wholesome foods and avoid sugar, dairy and gluten after lunch or afternoon snack at the latest. If you’re allowing your child treats that is okay. By giving a “buffer” for a few hours, it helps to get things through the system well before bedtime.

Not sure what kinds of foods to give your child? Try adding more sleep boosting foods, and avoiding these 5 foods.


Boost immunity

Every year at Christmas I’m almost guaranteed to get sick. And, just a few days off your usual diet can lower the immune defenses.

In addition to making sure that your child is getting more healthy and wholesome foods, make sure that you’re giving the right supplements to help with immunity. This is especially important if your child has food aversion, sensitivities, etc where the foods above are just not possible.

Make sure to give your child plenty of Vitamin C and start some grapefruit seed extract. These supplements are crucial to help combat incoming illness and to help get over illness sooner.

For these supplements, it’s best to give a little bit throughout the day. The best way to do this is to give a bit at each meal. This can be given as a powder, liquid, or gummy.

For Vitamin C, you want to try for 250mg for children under 5 years old, and up to 500mg for kids 5 years and over. If you have a baby or your child has reflux, ask your pediatrician first before starting this.

For Grapefruit Seed Extract, I usually only recommend a liquid supplement. Start with a drop at each meal and increase from there.

For best results, give these for up to 1 week after the holidays or longer if your child happens to be unwell.


Be patient – things will settle soon enough

Whether you’ve been traveling different time zones or had a “staycation”, adjusting back to the normal takes time. Even for those of us who love routine, it’s hard to get traction at least in the beginning.

But, your child with special needs is resilient and even if things are off for a few days or a couple weeks they will get back on track. And, you’ll start to see that your child will be thriving again after the holidays.


If you’re still struggling with your child’s sleep after the holiday hustle and bustle, don’t hesitate to reach out to ask your questions. Schedule a call with us here!