Trouble sleeping? Try these simple shifts to your child's routine...

After Bob Dole was defeated in the 1996 Presidential campaign, he said "I slept like a baby. I woke up every three hours and cried."


All jokes aside, many babies and toddlers can and do sleep well for a number of reasons. One is that they don't suffer from anxiety. As the experts at Raising Children tell us – "For children to be worried, they have to imagine the future and the bad things that might happen in it."

So it stands to reason that when their anxiety is reduced, they will sleep more easily too.


Here are three simple things to consider for a better nights sleep...

Positive pillow practice 


To encourage a restful sleep, get your child to;

1. Think of five good things that happened during the day.

2. Choose three things they'd like to do tomorrow and make a list or write them on the leaves on their Possibli-tree.

3. Practice ten minutes of meditation or visualisation – Help your child to imagine a 'special happy place' they can visit whenever they'd like to relax or build confidence. This can be an actual location, such as a favourite garden or beach, or it may be a fabulous fantasy destination they conjure up in their mind's eye. The fun with this is that they can let their imagination run wild. For instance, they might choose to:

  • imagine a sign at the entrance stating that it's 'Private Property' and no person or thing can enter that space, uninvited;
  • build a mansion, or pitch a tent;
  • construct a swimming pool or dam, imagine a river running through their property or an ocean complete with whales and dolphins, or
  • go hiking in the mountains, sailing on the high seas, flying through the galaxy or diving into caves... The options are endless.

This place is theirs to visit whenever they choose, but perhaps right before bed they might be better off imaging themselves climbing into a beautiful comfy bed and drifting off to sleep.


Why does this work? The sub-conscious mind, which runs the body, doesn't distinguish between fact and fiction. Having a special place in their mind, where children can imagine things going their way, being surrounded by friends and good times, can help them to physically relax and go to sleep in a positive state. This is great for adults too :–)

bright lights before bed delay sleep

Turn it down.


Mariana Figueiro of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her team showed that 'two hours of iPad use at maximum brightness was enough to suppress people's normal nighttime release of melatonin, a key hormone in the body's clock, or circadian system.'


And it's not just tablet and phone screens that can upset the apple cart. Bright lights in the bathroom, or bedroom, may also wake kids up just when they are supposed to be winding down. You might consider reducing the wattage of the bathroom light or the globe in their bedside lamp. If that's not practical, they could brush their teeth straight after dinner, so that they aren't walking into a fluro-lit bathroom too close to bedtime.

What goes in...


Remember that old saying ... 'We are what we eat'? well it's true, and the same can be said for what we drink as well.


Whilst most adults choose to restrict their caffeine intake to before 3pm – believing a latte later on could interrupt their sleep – they may not have considered the caffeine content of the beverages their kids are drinking. A can of Coca-Cola has 32mg of caffeine and a can of Diet Coke contains 42mg. Caffeine is also found in chocolate, coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt, as well as pain relievers and other over-the-counter medicines. Canadian guidelines recommend that preschoolers get no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day. Just another reason, in my book, not to give kids carbonated drinks at all – let alone close to bedtime.


While doing research on this topic, I came across this list of 10 more great tips for helping children to fall asleep.


Enjoy, and all the best for a peaceful sleep.

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