5 Tips for Supporting Your Child to get to Sleep
We all know that one of the first things to go out the window during uncertain and stressful times is a good night’s sleep. For our children, this is no different. During these tricky times, it is likely that we are all finding it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, whether this is difficulty winding down to go to sleep, or sleeping all the way through the night. Here are some tips to help support kids when a good night’s sleep is seeming elusive.
Minimise technology before bedtime
Say goodnight to the iPads, phones, television and computers an hour before bedtime. Children should have a break from technology as it can be affect the senses in many ways. For example, the blue light from the screen in a device can impact the production of melatonin, which is a very useful neurochemical that helps us to get to sleep!
Having a consistent and familiar routine before bed is not only useful to make sure that all the jobs get done before bed but also it signals to your brain that it is almost bed time. Our bodies are clever and learn “now is the time for sleep”. It can also lead to an increase in melatonin which helps us to sleep. If you are having difficulty having a consistent routine, strategies like visual charts and checklists can help keep everyone in the household on track.
Change the environment
If a child is having difficulty getting to sleep it is important that we look at the child’s sleeping environment. Are there any sensory inputs that are distracting to the child instead of calming them down? Is there a fan or air vent that is blowing in their face? Is there noise outside the home that is impacting their sleep? Could there be lots of exciting and colourful toys around their room that might be grabbing their attention? An occupational therapist can help you explore sensory inputs that would be calming for your child. Some suggestions to consider or trial could be having white noise in the background; turning off fans and reducing visual stimulation – i.e. packing away toys in containers so they can’t see them.
If a child is having difficulty winding down to go to sleep, heavy work activities may be an answer. These activities give our bodies lots of proprioceptive input which has a calming effect on our bodies. A great time for these are when children are getting home from school or just before dinner. Try animal walks, crawling over pillows, jumping on the trampoline or tug-a-war.
Wind down to bedtime with some calm time
Finally, when your child is getting ready for bed, try to actively support your child to wind down. Think about what relaxes them! This could include relaxing music in the background, candles or scents that are calming for your child, calm activities like reading a book, or even meditation.
If your child is still having trouble going to sleep – give us a call! We are here to help. You can reach Qualia on 9555 9776.
Sarah Bookey – Occupational Therapist