IMG_6246Halloween festivities are always an exciting time for many children, with festivities such as trick-or-treating or pumpkin carving often at the very top of their “to-do” list.

Dr. Sonia Smith, owner and practitioner of Emerald Coast Pediatric Sleep Consultants, stresses the importance for parents to be aware of the many Halloween-related factors that can affect a child’s sleeping routine.

Trick-or-treating is often done shortly after the sun sets, posing a risk for children to stray away from their night time routine. “Try to trick-or-treat early in the evening to avoid major disruptions in your child’s bedtime schedule,” Dr. Smith said. “Also, avoid letting your child eat treats that may have hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate. Once you get home, try to transition into your bedtime routine as quickly as possible to help your little ghosts and ghouls settle down for the night.”

While it is a myth that too much sugar can make it difficult for children to sleep at night, fluctuations (spikes and falls) in their blood sugar can interfere with their sleep. “Unless your child is overly sensitive to sugar intake, moderation is the key,” Dr. Smith said. “Therefore, limit the amount of sugary sweets your child has close to bedtime, even on Halloween!”

Before leaving the house to begin trick-or-treating, remember to grab a pack of antibacterial hand wipes or a pocket-sized hand sanitizer. “If your little one wants to sample treats before they come home, you don’t want them to be exposed to any unnecessary germs,” Dr. Smith said. “Kids with stuffy noses do not sleep well!”

If you decide to forego trick-or-treating, another great activity families can do together is pumpkin carving. While cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin, Dr. Smith recommends saving the seeds for a bed time snack. “Lightly-salted roasted pumpkin seeds are a great source of tryptophan,”  she said, ” Tryptonin converts to melatonin, which helps you to fall asleep.”