Sleep for children is one of the most important requirements in childhood development, and children with sleep issues cannot be taken lightly. Getting enough sleep is essential to good health and many body functions, such as growth, proper brain development, alertness and memory, healing and healthy immune system functioning. Through sleep, our bodies recharge and renew for the next day’s challenges. Emerging research suggests that too little sleep contributes to attention deficit, hyperactivity, mood disturbances and memory problems.1 Consider the following ideas to help your child get adequate sleep so they can grow up healthy and happy.
1. Bed-Time Yoga. Yoga for kids helps them improve strength, flexibility, balance, and concentration. Imagination is an important aspect in kids’ yoga. Imagine they are a fish swimming through a trout stream… a tree growing in a forest from the seed up…an animal in the zoo…all of these are represented through yoga poses. Dimming the lights (using only a soft lamp), playing soft music, and massaging their temples will help them to calm down; and the breathing encourages relaxation.2
2. Strive for Good Nutrition. A balanced diet is necessary for children’s bodies to digest and absorb nutrients essential for proper rest. One of the most common culprits is too much sugar in the diet. Sugar puts stress on the body and creates disturbance in the way the brain regulates sleep. Here are a couple tips to reducing your child’s sugar intake:
- Look out for hidden sugars in pre-packaged foods such as maltose, sorbitol, evaporated cane juice, xylotol, and words ending in “ol” or “ose”.
- Offer water instead of juice. If you do give your child juice, dilute it by 50% or more with water.
- Have healthy snacks on the ready such as frozen fruits, carrots, celery, and other portable vegetables, as well as peanuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
3. Stick to a Routine. Routines establish so many aspects of healthy living, good habits, and good behavior. Sticking to a solid routine will help your child’s body know when it is time to rest, and better sleep will result.
- Make bedtime the same time each night.
- Make sure the room is quiet and at a cool, yet comfortable temperature. Try to make it as dark as possible when they are ready for bed.
- Save your child’s favorite relaxing, non-stimulating activities, like story-time, until last and have them occur in the child’s bedroom.
4. The Importance of Naps. Nap and nighttime sleep are both necessary and independent of each other, according to National Sleep Foundation. Children who nap well are usually less cranky and sleep better at night. Check out the recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation for hours of sleep including naptime for children up to five years of age.
5. Try Chiropractic. Many parents of sleep-disturbed children are searching for non-pharmaceutical alternatives. Chiropractic is a safe, gentle option to improve quality of sleep for children. Specific, gentle chiropractic adjustments help to reduce the pressure upon your child’s nervous system, which regulates their sleep. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association recommends that parents have their children adjusted after every major milestone including birth, when they begin to crawl, and learning to walk. Along with those milestones, many parents have their kids adjusted for symptom relief like ear infections, asthma, and sleep problems, including bed-wetting. Adjustments don’t cure these ailments but they can aid in their recovery by improving the function of the body, helping your child be the happiest and healthiest they can be.