Many of us can’t wait for the first evidence of Halloween to appear in the aisles of our local stores. There’s a rainbow of colorful candy bags, fanciful costumes, and pumpkins for carving on display.
One form of Halloween or another has been celebrated since the 8th century and it’s no wonder that we all love it so much. We get to put aside who we really are for a time and go out into the world dressed up to delight or frighten, to make folks laugh or scream.
There are haunted houses to thrill us, Halloween parties to give us a break from the daily grind, and trick-or-treating for an escape into the joys of a good old-fashioned sugar rush.
Yes, for people of all ages, the last day of October brings about their favorite time of year. But as much fun as Halloween can be for both kids and adults, it can have some scary effects on sleep, unless you know how to avoid possible insomnia.
Keep reading to learn more about how to stay happy and well-rested this Halloween...
How Halloween Affects Your Sleep
Everyone loves hitting their neighborhood streets for a jamming Halloween party or a lively round of scoring tasty treats, but the truth is that this spooktacular night of fun and festivities can end up keeping you awake long past your normal bedtime.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways Halloween can wreak havoc on your sleep.
Believe it or not, sleep is more important to your health than food, and that means we need to be sure to put healthy foods into our systems for our overall well-being, especially when it’s near bedtime.
Almost every parent is well aware of how sugar can turn even the calmest kid into a wild child, but not many know that it’s a chemical reaction in the brain, which is caused by the release of serotonin and dopamine to create a “feel good” sensation.
Of course, this rush of euphoria is followed by the inevitable crash when those feel-good hormones wear off, causing grogginess and irritability, and sending many of us on the hunt for another fix of sweets. Not good, when you’re trying to sleep!
Halloween sends many trick-or-treaters, thrill seekers, and partygoers out into the streets. While this is all in good fun, it can create some seriously high noise levels that just might prevent you from falling asleep or staying that way, and it’s something both kids and adults need to take into consideration when it comes to prepping for a restful Halloween night.
This holiday of make-believe and enchantment can also cause quite a few nightmares, thanks to scary movie marathons on Netflix and all-too-realistic costumes that tend to be on the more gruesome side. Getting frightened kids to actually fall asleep (without having scary dreams) can be a trying experience!
We’ve already covered how the sugar in Halloween candy can keep you up longer at night, but did you know that quite a bit of your little trick-or-treater’s haul could also contain caffeine?
Chocolate treats hold high levels of this sleep-stealing stimulant and can bring about feelings of alertness when we should be winding down for the night. Caffeine enters the bloodstream in as little as 15 minutes and its effects can last as long as 6 hours. Yikes!
11 Tips for a Happy and Well-Rested Halloween
Now that you know just how much of an insomnia-inducing impact Halloween can have on you and your kiddos, let’s talk about how you all can get the sleep you need, even after a night full of trick-or-treating or partying down, so everyone can have a fun and restful holiday!
1. Craft a Halloween Plan
Remember that this holiday is centered around late-night activities, which means you need to plan ahead for the ultimate sleep success. If you have little ones, this means coming up with a strategy in regards to when you’ll head out for trick-or-treating, as well as when you’ll come back home.
You might also want to schedule a nap or some quiet time earlier in the day, so you’re taking already well-rested kiddos out for some Halloween fun, and you should also consider skipping bathtime and having their PJs laid out and ready for them once the evening draws to a close, so all they have to do is crawl into bed, no muss or fuss.
2. Try Spooktacular Substitutes
If you want to avoid worrying about waiting for night to fall to satisfy your kiddo’s need to trick-or-treat, or if you have children that are too young to take part in the fun that requires a later start, you might want to think about some alternatives to hitting up your neighbors for sweets.
Many shopping centers, zoos, and museums offer an earlier option for younger trick-or-treaters, and there might even be a school or a community center near you that hosts a seasonal carnival or “trunk-or-treats” event for a day full of fun that will still help your kids get the post- Halloween sleep they need.
3. Dress for Success
For most Americans, Halloween happens at the height of cold and flu season, thanks to the chilly weather. If you want to avoid your little one catching a case of the sniffles or another ailment that will keep them up at night, you need to prep in advance when it comes to their trick-or-treating wardrobe.
That means not only coming up with a costume that they’ll love, but also one that will give them plenty of room for the all-important layering effect underneath, or the much-needed winter coat on top to keep them nice and toasty as they go door-to-door.
4. Encourage a Quiet Night
All of us need good rest, but sleep is crucial for expecting mothers and new parents, as well as their bundles of joy, and that means they need a nice, quiet Halloween more than most.
If you have a new baby or have one on the way, try opting out of the festivities altogether by leaving a bowl of candy on the front porch with a polite note requesting that trick-or-treaters take one per customer and please avoid ringing the doorbell.
This gives you a chance to ward off the typical tricks that go hand-in-hand with the holiday (think trees covered in toilet paper) while also taking part in the treats that make Halloween so great, and getting the peace you need to get to sleep.
5. Keep an Eye on the Clock
You already know the importance of having a plan for when you’re out trick-or-treating with your kids, and that includes knowing when to call it a night and head back home for bedtime.
Be conscious of your child’s normal pre-bed routine and the time they typically turn in and do your best to stick with that schedule as closely as possible. This is especially important since Halloween falls on a school night this year!
Make sure you’re checking the clock and that you give your kids a head’s up when their “witching hour” is approaching. This will help avoid any begging for more time or pleading to visit just one more house.
6. Hold Back the Sweets
It might be tempting to allow your kiddos to dive right into the treats they’ve scored, but you already know how much sugar and caffeine can negatively impact their ability to get to sleep and stay that way.
Your best bet is to let them know before you head out on their trick-or-treating adventures that they’ll be allowed a couple of sweets that night (after you check their haul for safety, of course) and the rest will be doled out over the days and weeks to come.
If there’s a ton of complaining, you can offer them a sleep-friendly snack to help curb their cravings, without throwing a monkey wrench into them getting a good night’s rest.
7. Avoid Nighttime Scares
Although it might seem like sacrilege to let Halloween night pass without watching at least one scary movie, you’ve got to keep in mind that spooky stories have a tendency to bring about nightmares in children and adults.
If you can’t help yourself and have to give in to your cravings for all things creepy, do your best to make sure that you keep the scare level low and that any ghostly movies or books are enjoyed well before bedtime.
8. Harness the Power of Positive Thinking
There are sleep experts that believe positive thinking is the new insomnia therapy, and you can unleash the benefits for yourself by trying a bit of journaling before bedtime to release stressors, clear your mind of the day’s issues, and turn in with a clean slate.
This tactic can also help your little ones to avoid any possible nightmares from the creepy costumes they saw or aforementioned scary movies. After tucking them into bed, sit and talk with them for a few minutes about their favorite parts of the day, and send them drifting off to Dreamland with happy thoughts.
9. Consider Adding Some White Noise
If you or your kiddos will be turning in before the trick-or-treating comes to a close or the Halloween parties end, you might want to consider using some white noise to cover up the loud sounds in the neighborhood.
To create a restful effect, you can simply move a box fan closer to the bedroom window, look into picking up a white noise machine online or from a local home goods store, or download a white noise app on your smartphone or tablet.
You just might be surprised by how much soothing sounds can help lull you to sleep, even on a fun but noisy night like Halloween!
10. Anticipate a Bit of Stalling
As a parent, you shouldn’t be surprised by your kids dragging their heels a little bit when it comes time to turn in after an exciting night of costumes, spooky adventures, and candy hunting with friends and family.
And that’s okay! But it’s also more than okay for you to stick with your expectations of a successful bedtime routine for your little ones. Just remember to stay calm but firm, and you’ll find that you guys will get through a bit of post-Halloween crankiness together.
If your kids do have trouble falling asleep on Halloween night, you can help make sure they don’t suffer from any serious sleep deprivation by getting them to bed 30 minutes earlier for the remainder of the week.
11. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
The bottom line here is that Halloween is a super-fun night for kids, but it can be extra-draining for parents, which is why you need to remember to take a deep breath and cut yourself a break at the end of it all.
Even if you have trouble getting the kiddos to sleep at their usual bedtime on Halloween night, you can rest easy in knowing that you’ve created some lasting memories with them and that there’s still plenty of time to get everyone back on track tomorrow.
Even More Better Sleep Advice
Now that you know the best tips for better sleep on Halloween, you might want to take a look at these related articles, and find out what it takes to score amazing rest during the fall months and beyond.