Is Halloween Having a Spooky Effect on Your Sleep?
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
The most spooktacular time of the year is finally upon us! It's the season that all children (and many grown-ups) look forward to all year long. The first signs of fall show up in every grocery and craft store you happen to go into. Pumpkins for carving, painting or simply displaying take their rightful seasonal places.
Costumes, face paint, yard decorations (and most importantly, candy!) are in anything but meager supply as soon as the calendar strikes October. The freaky frills then slowly make their way into living rooms and front yards, as the long-awaited holiday slowly makes its grand entrance. Halloween is a day with countless ways to have fun. Parties, friends and free candy are obviously always welcome, but adding the fun of dressing up is what gives Halloween its festive appeal.
On Halloween, creativity and community are at their peak, which is always a good thing. However, few good things are without some disadvantage, and Halloween is far from an exception.
The night is full of excitement and goodies for both you and the kiddos. But too much of either of those things too close to bedtime can leave you seriously spooked when it’s nearly midnight and you’ve still got kids bouncing off the walls (while they may have been disguised as Spiderman all night, the wall-to-wall agility gets old after about 9:30). If all you want to do is send your little ghouls to bed so you can “check” their candy, there are a few things you should take into consideration while there’s still time.
Despite the extremely common misconception that this is all Halloween is about though, the holiday has a lengthy, detailed and even religious history. How much do you really know about your favorite holiday besides the fact that it means free sweets and inevitable late bedtimes? Keep reading to find out...
We all know that Halloween is the annual excuse to dress up like your favorite character and collect free candy. But what’s actually behind the holiday? Halloween originated in the eighth century with the festival of Samhain in what are now the United Kingdom and Northern France. The festival was originally a night to light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts and death. The night before was later named Hallow’s Eve, and then Halloween. Over time, Halloween has become the annual night for costumes, candy, parties and carving pumpkins. As old as the traditions are, they’re showing no signs of being less popular or widely celebrated. After all, who doesn’t love getting into costume and being handed sweets?
After the development of the festival into Hallow’s Eve, Pope Boniface IV expanded it further to include the recognition of all saints and martyrs. Later still, the spread of Christianity led to further expansion to the holiday. It now also included All Souls Day, lengthening the festival to November 2nd. But the traditions and celebrations remained the same, with bonfires, food, costumes, and Parades.
Halloween wasn’t always a big candy binging party. After Americans adopted the traditions from the Irish and English, which was originally going door-to-door asking for food and money, it eventually became trick-or-treating, as we call it today. Young women in Halloween’s beginnings also thought that by doing tricks with yarn or mirrors they could tell themselves the name and appearance of their future husbands. The 1800s is when Halloween first became a holiday for the community. People and neighborhoods started planning friendly get-togethers which included not only trick-or-treating but also sharing ghost stories, playing pranks and even the practicing of witchcraft. By the early 1900s, the most common way to celebrate Halloween was at parties, for both children and adults. Games involving the season and holiday became popular, and parents of small children began wanting to take anything scary or gruesome (like the holiday’s original ghostly history) out of the meaning of the day. Which meant the ultimate loss of Halloween’s true background in its celebration.
The 1920s and 30s were when Halloween had finally been transformed into the community and youth-oriented holiday it’s celebrated as today. Parades and parties were extremely popular, but with their rise in popularity also rose vandalism during this time in many communities. By the 1950s though, Halloween vandalism was under control, and the tradition was revived. Families and neighbors found that they could avoid having tricks played on them by providing treats. Today, Americans spend about six billion dollars every year on Halloween. But that’s nothing compared to the fortunes spent for Christmas!
Most of Halloween’s charm and appeal comes from its history. The day is known for mystery, superstition, and magic. Although originally, the ghosts being awaited on Halloween were friendly and welcoming, the ghosts and creatures that give Halloween its name now are much different. Wild superstitions arose somewhere along the way, too. For example, we were told to avoid crossing paths with a black cat unless we were looking for bad luck. Although black cats never did anything to gain this reputation for themselves, people during the middle ages believed that witches always had a black cat companion. And as innocent as the ladder in your garage may look, apparently, you shouldn’t trust it. The Egyptians believed that triangles were sacred (not to mention sauntering under a leaning ladder might be fairly unsafe). For various other reasons, including simply because it’s Halloween, we also try to avoid breaking mirrors, spilling salt or stepping on any cracks.
Although Halloween is now mostly celebrated for the kids, it can be fun for adults too, and it used to be a lot more common than you probably realized. The famously death-oriented holiday used to be extremely popular for focusing on the future of the living. More specifically, who they might end up marrying. Young women used to go to fortune tellers and do countless rituals and experiments to hopefully find out the name of their future loves. In Scotland, women would have a hazelnut for any eligible man in her sights and throw them all into the fireplace. The nut that burned completely instead of just popping and breaking would represent her true love (although in some places, the opposite is what was believed).
You aren’t alone if thinking about the post-trick-or-treating chaos that is bound to ensue on the 31st gives you chills. For many parents, that’s the true horror of Halloween. You can avoid the inevitable sugar-rush by planning ahead and having a healthy family before going out. This way, the kids will feel fuller and more satisfied by the time you’re all back at bedtime. But for younger kids, the entire point of Halloween is ending the night with as much sugary treasure as humanly possible. And you’re all about helping do that - but we all know the answer in the candy plus kiddy equation (especially in concerning quantities, and right before bed). This one may seem like a no-brainer, but the easiest and most reliable way to take them from Halloween Town to dreamland is to cut off the candy supply until the next morning at about a handful. If this is absolutely unachievable, you can always try asking your neighbors to hand out healthier, less sugar-loaded treats.
Sometimes, no matter what you try, the kid is just going to stay up past bedtime after getting all hyped up on Halloween jitters and excitement. What you can do if a decent bedtime the night of isn’t happening, is plan ahead. See if you can push bedtimes a couple nights before and after Halloween an hour or so earlier than usual. This may be difficult to do even when there is no Halloween candy involved, but the pre-bed struggle is much easier to handle than the morning results you’ll get if their sleep is lacking in quality or quantity. Even if you do decide to do this, you should always strive to keep their normal bedtime routine in order. This includes dinner, bath, homework, and any other things in the bedtime to-do list. All the same, only earlier.
Halloween has a whole lot more in its history that gets more and more forgotten each year, but is still pretty cool and interesting to learn about. And if your child is going to be staying up until the ungodly hours of the night on Halloween, they probably have made up their mind - which means you won’t be getting anywhere by forcing them into bed. Try moving up their bedtime or withholding the sugary treats until the next day so there’s still a slim chance of them (and you ) getting some decent shuteye this Halloween.