What’s Getting in the Way of Your Child’s Sleep?

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So many kids have a hard time falling and staying asleep.  There are many things that can be getting the in way of a good night’s rest. Hopefully I can give you some tips on helping your child get to and sleep and sleep all night long!

  1. Avoid caffeine.  Make sure your child isn’t consuming caffeine late in the day.  I know this can be hard for kids with ADHD, as some use caffeine to help manage their symptoms and improve focus.  If it’s interfering with sleep, it’s probably not worth it as lack of sleep also exacerbates ADHD symptoms.
  2. Avoid screen time 2 hours before bed.  I know that this can be extremely difficult with kids, but the light from the device tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime and time to be awake.  If the battle over screens is not something you can tackle right now, turn the light on the screen down so that it’s not so bright.
  3. Dim the lights.  Keeping the lights low near bedtime will help trigger the brain to knowing it’s going to be time to sleep soon.
  4. Get outside in sunlight!!! Exposing the skin to sunlight helps the body naturally produce melatonin.  Melatonin helps you fall asleep.  Some people a supplement of melatonin to help sleep.  According to the Mayo Clinic this is generally considered a safe practice, but shouldn’t be used long term.  They recommend only using it for short periods of time to help create good sleep habits and sleep cycles.  This melatonin supplement is a gummy and contains no artificial colors. Please consult your physician before starting any supplements.
  5. Don’t play in bed.  Keep the bed for only sleeping, avoid doing other things in bed, by only using it for sleep, it will help trigger your brain to knowing it’s time to sleep when you get in bed.
  6. Develop a routine.  Go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time.  (Once a good sleep routine is developed, if your child is able to sleep later on the weekends, that’s ok, but don’t stay up late, really try to stick to the routine as much as possible.)
  7. Is the room too hot? A good temperature for sleep 62-68 degrees F. Turn down the heat, turn up the AC or get a fan.  If your child likes a lot of blankets or uses a Weighted blanket you might want to make it a tad bit colder.
  8. Use a white noise machine. We have this one, we’ve used it with our son since he was born. He sleeps through thunder storms, fireworks, the TV etc. the only thing that might wake him is the power going out!
  9. Essential oils.  I know that many people might be rolling their eyes, but it really seems to help my son.  Plus there are studies that show some oils do help with ADHD symptoms and it can’t hurt, so why not? We diffuse Vetiver and use one like this.  Many people also find that lavender helps them sleep, but my son prefers Vetiver.  I buy my oils from Young Living, please contact me to order any oils or diffusers.
  10. Meditation.  This really works well. We tired 2 different meditation apps for kids. One is called Wellbeyond (the icon on the App Store looks like a clown fish, {think nemo}), the other one was Dreamykid, the icon has an owl.  On this one you can purchase specific meditation “stories” for things like ADHD, bedwetting, dealing with divorce and schoolwork mastery.  We tried the ADHD program and it was helpful.  It seemed to make my son feel more powerful and have more control over his ADHD.
  11. This post is about weighted blankets and why some kids like to use them.  Adults might like them too, they can be  supplement calming and help you relax.
  12. Have a bedtime story prepared.  Telling yourself a bedtime story can help you fall asleep.  Help your child make up a simple relaxing story, help your child memorize it and your child can tell it to themselves as they fall asleep.  You can also subscribe to apps such as Calm and select the story mode. You can also record yourself or your child telling a relaxing story.  We also used this clock with my oldest son, it has an option to hear a relaxing story, you can buy other cartridges to get different stories.
  13. Magnesium. This is a supplement that is lacking in most people’s diets.  Please talk to your doctor before using any supplement.  We used magnesium oil for topical absorption (please note that too much magnesium can cause loose stools, so use with caution). I used this oil for my son.  I usually sprayed it on his legs and back.  Please avoid broken skin as it stings!! I soon realized I could make my own oil so I did that. Some people use Calm powder to mix in a drink.  My son didn’t like the taste.  There are also gummies, we haven’t tried them.
  14. Make the room dark.  This isn’t too hard in the winter, but in the summer it can be hard to make the room dark enough to sleep.  We use blackout curtains to make the room dark.  Before having kids I thought these were unnecessary, but after my son had an awesome nap at a friends house in a room with these curtains, I was sold! (My son wouldn’t sleep anywhere but home and daycare, & the one time he was at this friend’s house with blackout curtains!)
  15. Check for adequate airway flow.  Some kids do not breath well at night.  Do they snore? Have sleep apnea? If you suspect any breathing issues with your child seek out a sleep study.  Sometimes your doctor will hesitate to order a sleep study, but if your child isn’t sleeping well, it’s worth checking out.  Do they need orthodontic work? This can also make breathing difficult. Some kids also benefit from having a fan in the room at night, moving air around and making it easier to breathe.
  16. Lay with them.  Lying down with your child can be very helpful in getting them relaxed enough to fall asleep.  I know that this is not ideal for some, it’s a personal choice, but if your child needs you to be with them and you fear they will never fall asleep without you, please let go of that fear.  If you enjoy being with them at bedtime, do it. They will outgrow it.  It might seem like it will take forever, but it won’t.  When you are ready I recommend a version of the “long goodbye” method. (you can read more about it here.
  17. Therapeutic listening. We did 9 weeks of therapeutic listening. For more information check out this link, after doing this, my son stopped waking up in the middle of the night. Prior to doing this program my son was waking 5-9 times a night (at age 4). He didn’t have trouble falling asleep until he was older. If doing this program is too much you can get specially modulated music to play at night. You can get this music here
  18. Get plenty of psychical activity during the day.  Getting kids outside and moving are very important for all areas of development.  Sometimes you are stuck inside, check out this post for great ideas on burning energy when you are inside.

I hope some of these tips help you and your child get to and stay asleep.  Getting good sleep can really change your life!   Sweet dreams!!

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