Are you looking for sleep aids for children that will help your child fall asleep and stay asleep? A good night's rest begins with you as the parent. It is important to provide your child with structure, schedule, and forms of soothing to prevent sleep deprivation and the resulting physical and behavioral affects.
Sleeping comes more naturally for children. Insomnia in children is not normal. However, children often experience sleep problems and sleep deprivation because of a combination of lifestyle sleep inhibitors.
Rarely do children have a true sleep disorder.
The four main factors that influence your child's ability to sleep well and to get enough sleep are:
It is often what occurs during the day that determines how well children sleep at night.
Use natural sleep aids for children to help establish healthy sleep patterns at a young age.
Did you know that there are foods that stimulate our bodies and make it more difficult to sleep? Here are some diet suggestions for better sleep:
* Have dinner three hours or more before bedtime and avoid big snacks before bedtime.
* Stop drinking sodas and drinks with caffeine. Provide water, juices or milk.
* Avoid eating chocolate
* Remove sources of sugar from the diet
* Provide more natural and healthy food sources like a fresh apple, an orange or grapes as a snack
Exercise and Sleep
Children need natural exercise and fresh air to help them spend some of their youthful energy. When they get home from school before they start any homework, children need to run, walk, play football, or ride bikes.
After sitting all day at school, the worst thing for a child is to sit some more watching TV, playing a video game or surfing on the computer.
Encourage your child to play outside so that that built up energy can be expended.
Electronics and Sleep
There are many studies that show the adverse affect of long hours of video or computer games. Agitation and restlessness are common among children who spend their free time in front of an electronic screen. Sleep aids for children include not only what to do, but what NOT to do, to promote sleep.
Especially avoid TV, computer use and video games close to bedtime to prevent over stimulation.
Keep the television/video games/computer/cell phones out of the children's bedrooms.
Blue light and electromagnetic fields are emitted from electronic devices, both of which interfere with melatonin production. Melatonin is essential to give kids that sleep feeling. Children do not have the discipline it takes to NOT turn on some kind of electronic device that's sitting right there in their bedroom. It is just too tempting and it is unfair to expect this from a child.
One of the best books on this topic is written by Dr. Marc Weissbluth called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. One of my favorite chapters is called How Parents Can Help Their Child Establish Healthy Sleep Habits; You Can Prevent Sleep Disturbances from Infancy to Adult.
Just like children need to be taught healthy eating habits, children need to be taught good sleep habits. Naturally a child will choose a chocolate chip cookie over a fresh plate of vegetables - likewise they'll choose to stay up rather than take a nap or go to bed at an earlier time.
* Before bedtime begin to settle down with relaxing activities rather than stimulating activities.* Try to include a relaxing bath using magnesium flakes. Magnesium is called the "great relaxer" and absorbing it through the skin via a bath or with lotion is a great way to calm and relax your child before bedtime.
* Use natural bath products for kids
Did you know that most personal care products for kids contain toxic ingredients that disrupt hormones, cause cancer and contribute to allergies? The organization Healthy Child Healthy World lists the top 14 most harmful chemicals to kids, such as parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate - both of which are commonly found in kids shampoos and body washes.
That's why I've made the switch to safe products that work, but are free of toxic ingredients. My top choice is the natural kids shampoo, body wash and lotion by Beauty Counter, a company that is committed to truth and transparency in their ingredient list and to only use products that are safe.
* Establish a firm bedtime and work backwards to ensure you have time to complete everything before bed.
Reflect on the time the children need to wake up in the morning and ensure they will get a full night's sleep according to the Sleep Chart Below.
* Create a routine. This prepares the children and signals the brain for bed with dinner, bath, reading a story, prayers, and lights-out.
While it is true that some children have a harder time or take longer to unwind and to eventually fall asleep, it is not true that children have a melatonin deficiency. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland to help induce sleep.
Just as adults are tempted to look for sleep aids in a bottle, parents often are tempted to look to some type of sleep medication or supplement for a child that has difficulty sleeping.
Melatonin is a hormone and in fact cannot be purchased over the
counter in Europe. Resorting to melatonin medication will not help you
explore why your child is struggling with sleep. Giving your child a
pill every night will reinforce the idea that he/she is not capable of
falling asleep without some type of medication or supplement and
reinforce the beginnings of unhealthy sleep habits.
For children who have trouble falling asleep use these bulbs in their bedroom and bathroom. Most other bulbs emit blue light which blocks the production of melatonin which is needed to help give us that sleepy feeling.13-Watt Compact Fluorescent Mini Twist Orange Bulb
While getting on their pajamas use a small bedside light with a low wattage bulb - like 40 watts rather than a bright ceiling light.
The same is true for the bathroom. Use even a small night light while brushing teeth or washing up. Don't turn on the bright overhead bathroom lights.
While reading books before bedtime use the same low light bed lamp to read. When it is time for bed, it's best to have no lights on in the bedroom, not even a night light. Use room darkening shades to keep out outside lights as well.
Remember absolutely no electronics in the bedroom - no handheld video games, no TV, no iPods or iPads, etc. All of these stimulate and excite the brain and are good for daytime use but prevent the child from relaxing at bedtime.
1. Calming Music
You can create your own playlist or download a whole album. Play the same album routinely so that your child will associate the music with sleep.
Eventually the music or song will actually help signal the brain that it's time to unwind and fall asleep.
2. White Noise Device
You can buy a machine like this one pictured or download an app onto your iPod and play it on a speaker. White noise can filter out other sounds going on in the house or outside and the soothing sound can also help trigger the sleepy response. Sometimes a bedroom can be too quiet and a constant background noise can calm the mind.
Whenever our grandchildren are sleeping at our house - for naps or overnight, I always have the white noise device on. This one runs continuously through the night. You can change the sound and the speed of "the whoosh" to adapt to your situation. The Marpac Dohm-DS is the official sound conditioner of the National Sleep Foundation. It's small and portable so you can take it with you when traveling.
3. Magnesium Oil Spray
While the Sunfood brand is the most expensive magnesium spray it's the best for children because it doesn't cause any itching or stinging like other magnesium sprays. Other sprays leave a white flaky residue and needs to be wiped off.There is no odor - bad or good to the spray, but you can add some lavender essential oil for a pleasant fragrance and for its sleep promoting qualities.
This important calming mineral is readily absorbed through the skin. Spray it on the bottom of each foot with a little foot massage.
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
This chart comes from The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child's Sleep. The sleep time is for 24-hours, which includes nighttime and naps. Children's sleep needs will vary with age. Observe your children's behavior. Are they sleepy during the day? Are they wired at bedtime? Could they be sleeping too much or not enough at night?
- Between Birth-Six Months, children need 16-20 hours
- Between Six-Twelve Months, children need 14-15 hours
- Between Ages 1-3, children need 10-13 hours
- Between Ages 3-10, children need 10-12 hours
- Between Ages 11-12, children need about 10 hours
- Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night
Sleep aids for children include outdoor playing during the day, calming activities at night, eating healthy foods, and removing caffeine. Be the parent and set your child up for a quality night sleep with a winding down routine.
If you find that these natural sleep aids are not helping your child or if they are still tired after the required hours of sleep seek the medical advice of your child's primary care doctor.
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