One of the greatest mysteries of the world is why children avoid sleep, especially when it’s the one thing parents want the most! If you’re the parent of a child who resists sleeping, these little tips might just help you out. Note: If you’re the parent of a child who really resists sleep, you’ve almost definitely tried these but even if they don’t ‘work’ they’re still good, lovely things to do for your kids. And also big internet hug – kids who don’t sleep are really difficult and you’re doing a great job.
1. Keep them hydrated during the day (and taper off in the evenings to avoid night wake ups)
Water really is a miracle cure. It can help with headaches, fatigue, digestion, focus and metabolism function so it’s not surprising it can also help with sleep. Dehydration can really screw with healthy brain functionality while you sleep so it’s important to make sure your kids are getting enough water. Try using a star chart so every time your child has a full glass of water, they earn a star on their chart. It’s a great way to keep on track with their water consumption and to make sure they’re staying consistently hydrated. Cute water bottles and flasks can also be a big incentive.
2. Have a screen time cut off for the whole family
It’s not new information to anyone that blue lights and too much screen time is extremely detrimental to our sleep patterns but you have to admit it’s really hard for kids to settle well when the TV is on and everyone is up using computers, iPads, and phones. Implement a household screen ban for the hour before your children’s bedtimes. It will give their eyes and brains and rest before they sleep and it’s much easier to get kids in bed if you’ve removed all the fun reasons for staying up! It will also encourage all adults in the house to help with the household wind down – this is the perfect time for the not-putting kids to bed partners or teenagers to do things like loading the dishwasher and packing school bags for the next day.
3. Create a positive bed time routine
Bed time can be really stressful for kids for lots of different reasons. Sometimes they don’t want to be alone, maybe they don’t want to miss out on anything, maybe they’re scared of the dark but if you create calm and positive bed time routines, it will help your kids settle into a good night’s sleep.
Special bedtime stories, a routine around choosing pyjamas or a ritual of tucking your kids in, will help to (hopefully!) create invisible boundaries where kids subconsciously understand that it’s sleep time.
4. Keep them cool
Did you know that it’s physically impossible to fall asleep unless your temperature drops slightly? That’s why a lot of people have trouble falling asleep in summer. One of the best ways to get kids to fall asleep is to give them a warm bath or shower before bed so their temperature drops after they get out and it makes them nice and sleepy. Lavender oil can also be a life saver as can the Sleepy balm from 123 Nourish Me. Rub the balm gently into their chest or put a drop of lavender oil on your child’s blanket or doona cover to help get them to sleep – or pop a drop or two into a blob of their body oil or cream and massage their feet with it – or mine! hehe. Doesn’t that sound like bliss?
5. Place your child in Sleeping Baby pose
I was taught this at a yoga retreat a few years ago and it works like a charm. The pose is tummy down, head to one side, left arm and leg bent at right angles and the right arm leg stretched down towards the end of the bed.
The reason why it’s so effective is that you can’t move or roll over. Sometimes your child’s inability to fall asleep is simply a lack of stillness.
For more sleep tips I’ve got some fantastic podcast episodes with experts who specialise in both sleep and kids health from both western and alternative standpoints.
Check out my podcast #33 with Dr Ron Ehrlich talking in detail about the connection between your mouth and quality of sleep. You can listen to it on my iTunes here.
One of my most recent podcast episodes, show #85 is with Dr Elisa Song, an expert in both conventional and complementary medicine. Dr Song offers incredible support as we navigate the modern world and modern illnesses with our kids in tow. You can listen on iTunes here.
Last but not least, an old episode, #3 with Fiona Kerr, talking all things sleep and the brain. You can listen on iTunes here.
And a bonus tip – have a good shakey dance before bed. Shaking off all that nervous kid tension in a shakey dance (think tribal “bringing the rain in” dancing) can help them down regulate and feel still and relaxed afterwards – It’s kind of like a junior version of TRE which I discussed with the wonderful Sharon Mullan Show #30 on the podcast.
What are your favourite good-sleep tips?
Low Tox. Happy Bodies. Happy Planet.