Do your children ever have trouble falling asleep at night? Are they up and down after you’ve tucked them in? It’s so easy for kids to become over stimulated in the media-driven world we live in.
It can be hard for kids to wind down at night, I remember as a kid finding it hard to go to sleep and often lay awake for hours. We are not taught how to relax, so I’ve decided to share some yogic tips that have helped my family.
Massage for Tense Muscles
Become aware of your child’s body, are their muscles tight and tense, are they clenching their stomach. Just like adults, children can be affected by anxiety and stress for all sorts of reasons, starting new schools, family illness, financial problems even a change to their routine. This stress can be held in their body in the form of tight muscles.
A massage is a fantastic stress-buster. Giving your children a massage before bedtime will help them to sleep better as it is grounding and nurturing and will relax the nervous system. I would encourage you to use oil when you massage, try coconut oil in summer as it’s cooling and in winter you can use sesame oil* as it is warming. (If your child really feels the heat use a mixture of coconut oil and sesame oil in winter) Massage your children regularly and notice the improvement to their health and wellbeing.
*I like Melrose organic sesame oil as it doesn’t smell, you can also add a couple of drops of essential oil like lavender.
Become aware of your child’s breathing. Is it shallow, are they breathing into their chest or are they able to take deep belly breaths. When kids are anxious their breath is shallow and they are breathing into their chest rather than their belly. Help your child take slow deep inhales and exhales before sleep. Place your hand on their belly or even a feather or toy and ask them to breath in deeply and make your hand/toy rise up as they inhale and then let your hand/toy sink as they exhale. Doing this regularly will increase your child’s breath awareness, a great gift for them to help cope with stress in life.
Are they too hot or too cold.
Some kids really feel the cold and popping some socks on can be comforting and soothing especially if you do a little foot massage first.
When it’s really hot I pop eye masks in the freezer with a drop of peppermint oil on them, the kids love using these on a hot balmy night when it’s hard to sleep.
The blue light emitted from smartphones or tablets can cause strain and keeps you from falling asleep. This is because the blue light suppresses melatonin secretion and interferes with circadian rhythm. Switch off kids screens at least 1 hour before they go to bed.
Meditation and visualization teaches kids to concentrate awareness. It helps to move the energy from their mind into their body. There are some great kids meditations around and free ones on youtube.
I also like to read meditations to my kids, there is a great book I use called ‘Relax Kids’ The Wishing Star by Marneta Viegas. It contains 52 meditations that you can read to your children (ages 5+).
Exercise and Playtime
Are your kids getting enough physical exercise and playtime? Kids yoga is brilliant as it combines relaxation and physical exercise. Also make sure your children are not over-scheduled, unstructured playtime is important as it helps kids to manage their emotions and stress.
I hope these tips are useful. If you have any other tips that you use to settle your children for a good nights sleep, please share below in the comments section.
Harvard Health Report ‘Blue light has a dark side’
Sleep Health Foundation – http://sleephealthfoundation.org.au – melatonin
Relax Kids The Wishing Star – 52 Meditations for Children – Marneta Vigas