How to improve your child's sleep routine
As adults we know the benefits of a good night’s sleep and we know how awful we feel when we have been deprived of our precious sleep for whatever reason. It is natural to have good nights and bad nights when you take into consideration daylight savings, weather, activity levels and emotional states, that’s life. However, continual sleep difficulties can cause serious detrimental effects to both children and adult’s health and functioning.
Children’s sleep (or lack thereof) is an extremely common concern for parents and we hear about it daily in the studio. The amount of sleep required by children varies depending on age, as well as from child to child, but what does not vary is that sleep is required for growth, immune function, healing, learning and memory formation. A recent study found that children who do not get enough sleep may not only show signs of poorer cognitive performance but may also suffer depression, anxiety and impulsive behaviour.
As a parent you have no doubt given up much sleep for your child already but your child getting a decent night sleep often means you can too! Here are some helpful hints you can use to establish a calming routine to prepare your child for bed:
1. Start slowing down a couple of hours before bed ~ make bath time relaxing and focus on quiet and soothing activities you can do together such as reading books, telling stories, drawing, breathing exercises and meditation in the time before bed. If your child suffers anxiety, nightmares or generally finds sleep difficult, it is important to talk about it earlier in the day so before bed the conversation is about happier things that encourage a state conducive for sleep.
2. Avoid eating food just before bed ~ digestion may interfere with sleep so if your child is hungry before bed offer a small snack of food containing tryptophan (eggs, cheese, peanuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds and milk) which help produce melatonin. A cup of chamomile tea or warm milk can be very calming provided you leave out sweeteners which may increase short term activity levels.
3. Avoid screens at least one hour before bed ~ this means TV, computer, iPad or phones, all of which emit a stimulating blue light which will not allow the brain's activity to calm down. If possible it is a great idea to keep TV’s and computers out of the child’s bedroom so your child's brain associates the bed with sleep, not with game playing and socialising.
4. Minimalise bedroom clutter ~ as mentioned above your child’s bedroom should be associated with sleep only, so less toys and clutter means less inspiration to play at bedtime. A dark, cool and comfortable room is also conducive to sleep and a small nightlight may be a helpful tool to ensure your child feels safe and relaxed.
If you have any concerns around your child's sleep, spine or nervous system health, please get in touch at email@example.com