This has been a difficult time for many, especially children. Not only have our lives changed dramatically, theirs have as well. They are especially sensitive to the tension and stress parents are experiencing, which means they may feel more drained, and certainly more tired. Prioritizing sleep is essential for your children and family right now. Below I share four main reasons they need sleep, and what initial steps we can take to keep routines and sleep schedules on track during this time.
Children thrive with routines
Children thrive with routines, and truthfully, we all do. Even with most activities, schools and businesses closing, together with our social distancing, we can do something. We can control healthy habits, especially sleep. In a world that is feeling uncertain, having bedtime routines in place enables children to feel safe, secure, and rested. For example, if children usually go to bed at 7:30 P.M. and wake at 6:30 A.M. then stick with a similar schedule now. I also recommend eating together at regular mealtimes and maintaining a general weekday schedule. Keep a more relaxed weekend schedule for children and the entire family.
Sleep is crucial for their health
Proper sleep hygiene allows children to have better focus, improved energy, and boosts their immune system. Right now, focus on what you can do in terms of honouring healthy habits. We likely have more time than ever before, to eat more healthy, drink lots of water, and honour our sleep. Many children know we are trying to keep our bodies healthy right now. Have a simple conversation about how honouring our sleep is going to help with this, and make sure that you are doing this for yourself as well. Children will learn to value sleep when they see their parents doing this for themselves.
Use a Sleep Meditation
For additional help with sleep, there are some free online resources for children and parents. We have used these in our home.
- Calm is a free online meditation App that offers support during this time.
- Elaine Martin also shares some amazing sleep stories for children. I am a huge fan of her work!
Where to start
Implement a bedtime routine for your child starting tonight. If things have fallen off track with the whirlwind that has affected all of us in the world, just create a plan to begin now. Here is one example of a typical bedtime routine for children over the age of three years.
Step 1: Decide on a bedtime.
- Anywhere between 7 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. is ideal for most children.
- Plan your dinner time and evening to ensure this time works. Tip: Give yourself a 15-minute buffer when considering your schedule to allow for more time.
Step 2: Create a bedtime routine together.
- Create a visual chart for them to use!
Step 4: Enjoy this time.
- Now more than ever before, is the time to connect, slow down, and be present with children.
Step 5: Do your best.
- The night before, plan the next day, re-evaluate, and make changes. Allow your child to explore different options or ideas for tomorrow.
If you have any questions about getting proper sleep for your child or yourself, I encourage you to schedule a FREE consultation here.
Wishing you and your families the very best in sleep and health as we navigate through this time together.
Many parents have children at home while trying to juggle the household, work from home, and socially distance themselves. As a Sleep Consultant who works with tired families daily, I know this often creates even more demands on families raising young children.
Together with rested families in the Sound of Sleep Consulting private Facebook group, we have come up with some activities that are fun, easy and creative for babies and children.
1. Sensory play
Anything that stimulates the senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, sight and hearing.
Try play dough, dry pasta, coloured tissue paper in empty boxes, or fill up jars with soap, water, ice cubes, sparkles or anything else on hand to create a magic potion.
2. Create an invitation to play
Take a divided container (or use individual containers/bowls) where you can place some toys, playdough, and an assortment of items and let your child create using their imaginations.
3. Paint on a window
Use a ziploc bag, add some paper and squirts of paint. Zip up tight and tape it up for extra security, ensuring no leaks. Tape it to the window, and let your toddler, preschooler, and even an older child enjoy creating his masterpiece. Let your little one’s art work dry, and hang in an extra special spot!
We all need some exercise to stay healthy, produce happy hormones, and of course for better sleep! Babywear while doing a YouTube workout, or place your little one on a playmat while you interact with him. Join a local virtual workout class like FitMom, or give your child some hip hop music to dance and move their bodies too. Have older children create a workout play list on one of the many apps such as Spotify.
5. Create a band
Let your child take items from around the house to use as drums, and grab some spoons as drumsticks. In our family, we all have shirts from our annual Terry Fox run and became the Terry Fox Rock Band. We wore the shirts while working and our children created the music and performed for us.
While our stress levels can increase during this time, I notice a reconnection to more simpler times at home. Thankfully for many of us, with are home with those we love. I encourage everyone to take the time to accept the things we cannot control, love yourself and those you love. Who knows? You may even have fun doing one of these ideas, and experience a therapeutic connection.
Remember to honour your sleep as well. As a Sleep Consultant for babies, children, teens and adults, I know this will provide you with a stronger immune system. Rest and sleep will also decrease any additional stress and anxiety. This is needed more than ever during these trying times. I encourage you to schedule a free call here.
Wishing you the best in sleep and in health,
“So do you just sleep perfectly every night?”
I remember my friend asking me this. The truth is, most of the time I do. I am usually researching and helping others who are suffering with extreme sleep deprivation. I see first-hand how it directly impacts their energy, focus, relationships mental health and well-being.
I am also juggling life as everyone does and sometimes that means I have to have a plan to make rest a priority. Here are some of the most common ways that I see my clients fall off track and my tips for keeping sleep a priority.
- I have no time. Sometimes, this statement is true but, is it every single day? Where are the moments of opportunity for rest in your day? A 10-minute break or even taking a lunch break? What about a meditation? There are so many excellent apps to try. Breethe has some that take as little as three minutes to do. You can even listen to it while driving to create more mindfulness. FYI – I never FEEL like meditating, but I do it to take a break and calm my nervous system. Of course, to help me sleep better at night.
- My child’s schedule is too busy. Having a busy activity schedule can mean that the to-do list is left until the end of the day after the kids are in bed. This makes for a really late night.
It is important to find ways to get assistance from a friend or hired help. Perhaps you need answer only five emails, or set a timer for 15 minutes so that you can wrap up work and have time to unwind before bed. Not every night will be perfect, but by making small adjustments and setting limitations you can alleviate a lot of pressure and stress. Then you can have some time to unwind and eliminate those symptoms of insomnia.
- I want to stay up late. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and all work and no play is not the way to enjoy yourself. It is important to have nights out with friends or even watch a movie with your spouse. Our Friday nights are often movie nights before bed providing us with sometime together. Set yourself up for success by aiming for good sleep habits five nights of the week. Then the other “off’ nights will fit more easily into your plan for better sleep. If you are too rigid with your sleep schedule, you may quickly fall off track. You need to see your sleep as something precious and not a hindrance to your life.
Looking for more answers to your most common sleep problems? Schedule a free consultation with me here and start enjoying a perfect night of sleep!
Do you reach for a cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning? Many of us do! Maybe it’s the smell, the first cup you drink that tastes so delicious or the feeling of more energy on Monday morning that you look forward to? There are a variety of reasons that people enjoy coffee and like everything in life, it is fine in moderation for adults to consume. Of course, children must avoid coffee completely. It can negatively affect the quality and quantity of their nutrition by acting as an appetite suppressant.
As a Sleep Specialist I work with individuals everyday to resolve their most challenging sleep problems. I know people are typically only motivated to cut back on their caffeine habit once they have a clear understanding as to why and how it affects their sleep. Here are common reasons.
- Caffeine acts as a stimulant. The one thing that you love about it is the same thing that is often causing or at least contributing to insomnia – at least when you consume too much at the wrong time of day. It can also increase feelings of anxiety or irritability.
- It stays in your system longer than you think. Caffeine stays in your system between 4-6 hours. However, a quarter of that caffeine will stay in your system for as long as 12 hours!
So what can you do to enjoy your cup of coffee and get a good night’s sleep? You don’t have to cancel all of your coffee dates but instead, be mindful of these important tips to keep caffeine in check.
- Make sure to limit caffeine to no more than two 8 oz. cups per day, preferably before 10:00 a.m.
- Cut down on the amount of caffeine that you consume. Instead try decaf, a half cup of coffee, an energizing herbal tea instead such as peppermint, or decaffeinated green tea.
- Replace your coffee with a healthy alternative. Many of us crave caffeine after lunch when our internal clock causes us to naturally feel sleepy. Taking a short walk and getting some fresh air and sunshine can help us feel more alert. Bonus points for taking a 20-minute nap when time permits.
- Watch for hidden caffeine consumption found in cocoa, caffeinated teas, popular energy drinks, and some soft drinks.
Of course, you will also want to make sure that you have a solid sleep routines in place as well if you are faced with sleep challenges so don’t forget to create a peaceful sleep environment, a relaxing bedtime routine and make sure that you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Looking for help with kicking the endless cycle of poor sleep night after night? Schedule a complimentary Discovery call here.