When Counting Sheep Doesn't Work...
There is arguably nothing more frustrating for a parent than a child that doesn't sleep well. To me, this is one of the more crucial issues that can arise, because a child needs sleep in order to grow and stay healthy, and a parent needs sleep in order to stay sane and aware. A huge amount of the body's detoxifying and healing occurs during sleep, between the hours of 11pm and 3 am. This is when the gallbladder and liver are most active energetically, releasing bile, making cellular repairs, building blood cells, and detoxing the blood. For all of these reasons, sleep problems should be taken very seriously.
Understanding a child's sleep issues can be a multi-faceted endeavor. There can be so many factors at play. For example, one child may have sluggish digestion (Earth element) that causes pain or discomfort at night, while another may have an imbalance of the Fire element that leads to night terrors. Here are a few things to try to get your sleepless child back to consistent peaceful slumber.
Reduce processed sugar and artificial colors
Processed sugar and artificial colors (Red 40) can cause hyperactivity, depressed immune function, mood swings, ADD/ADHD. Reducing or eliminating these from your child's diet is a huge step in the right direction, and sometimes this alone will make a huge difference.
Talk things through
If your child struggles to settle down at night, try to avoid punishing them or getting angry. Set the tone with your own energy. Speak calmly and take deep breaths, as it is proven that children will match the breathing rate of their parents, particularly their mothers. If your child starts telling your about their day, listen to them instead of chastising them for not being tired. The more a child worries or feels nervous, the more wound up they will become. Some children need to talk about their day so they can let go of emotions that might otherwise keep their minds racing.
Establish a "winding down" routine
Start a night time routine of massage, acupressure, reading stories, or listening to calming music. Children respond well to routine and consistency, and all of these activities will help to settle their yang energy from the day, and help them transition to the yin energy of the night.
Acupuncture works phenomenally well for regulating circadian rhythms, and rebalancing the hormones and brain chemistry responsible for a good night's sleep. Remember, acupuncture can be done on children, and can be done without needles.
Diffuse Essential Oils
Essential oils can be effective in setting the tone for relaxation, and in maintaining peaceful sleep. Diffuse oils like vetiver, lavender, and chamomile during your child's bedtime routine, and through the night while they sleep. For a child with nightmares, juniper oil can be added to the mix.
Herbs like valerian, chamomile, and ashwaganda can be taken as tea or a tincture in the evening to calm and soothe. If your child is not thrilled by the taste, add a bit of raw honey to sweeten the flavor (raw honey is also great for sleep issues).
Turn Off Technology
The blue light from cell phones, tablets, TVs, and game consoles suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin controls your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), so without it, it is hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Technology also keeps your child's brain alert and stimulated, making sleep harder to attain. Institute a tech-free hour before bed, and ask children to keep their phones and other electronics out of the sleep area. Not only will this allow them to wind down, but it also means less EMF exposure too.
If your child is struggling to sleep at night, give some of these tips a try, or connect with Caitria for guidance.