Sleep Problems in Children
At the moment you may be finding that your child is reluctant to go to sleep or is waking up more frequently during the night. They may have been a good sleeper before but now you find them struggling. One of the key factors that can disrupt our sleep as adults and children is anxiety and this is a perfectly normal reaction to stress and stressful situations.
However, a good night’s rest is vitally important to our health. It protects us physically and mentally, and our children need this rest so that they are in a better frame of mind when starting the day.
Scientists have found that anxiety and stress both directly impact sleep. When you feel anxious, your heart rate increases. This causes your brain to go into overdrive and we find it hard to switch off. With an alert mind, our children can feel too stimulated to sleep.
What Can We Try?
- Get your child to draw a picture or talk to you about what they might be worried about. Ask them why they don’t want to sleep or stay in their bed. If they are unsure, getting their feelings out on paper can help relieve whatever the anxiety may be around.
- Make sure you have a clear bedtime routine.
- Try and get into a clear routine. e.g. let them watch TV or a device before tea then they get turned off at least an hour before bed. After tea its bath, story or reading or wind down time and make sure they know that 7pm (or a time you feel appropriate) is bedtime. They may not sleep at this time but it is time for them to stay in their bed.
- Some children like to know that an adult is near for comfort or safety, try giving them a piece of your clothing that smells of you that they can take to bed with them.
- Mindfulness – on the link below you will find two guided activities to try and hep release fears of your child if having nightmares or appears worried.
- Calming music – You can find a range of deep sleep music that can be used to calm children when they go to sleep. Play this quietly but leave it on the landing with the screen pointing away from the bedroom. If your child tends to get out of bed make sure it is out of reach if possible.
- Try doing some gentle stretches with your child – Cosmic Yoga, that can be found on Youtube, is a great start and end to the day.
You might also like to practice some of the mindfulness breathing techniques below.
1. Rock the boat – See if you can make a paper boat and lay down on your bed nice and flat. Practise taking a deep breath in and counting 1, 2, 3, 4 then hold becareful your boat doesn’t wobble off! Then slowly letting the breath go 1, 2, 3, 4. Concentrate on your tummy moving up and down and think about your boat going over the waves.
2. Rainbow Breaths – Sit up straight and stretch your arms out to your sides. You need to pretend that there are big paint pots either side of you. Think of a colour and dunk your hands into your pretend paint. Taking a deep breath in slowly lift your arms from your sides in the air above your head – pretend to spread the paint – hold for 5 seconds thinking of the bright colour you’ve just painted with your arms. Then very slowly bring your arms back down to your sides. Repeat with all the different colours of the rainbow.
3. Practise tracing your fingers – outstretch one hand in front of you and with your other hand use your index finger to follow the outline of your hand. As you draw up take a deep breath in and hold for 4 seconds then as you trace down blow your breath out. Once you have traced one hand swap hands and repeat the process.
There are some guides to sleep on the link below.