How To Get Children to Sleep

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In order for us to get restful sleep, we need to be relaxed. In order to relax, a number of things have to happen. First of all, we need to feel safe and secure. Obviously, if there is tension in the house - abuse, parents rowing, problems with finances or neighbors, or else problems at school or with friends, it will be much harder to relax and fall asleep.

It's also important to feel secure and safe in our own beds. There are children with sensory integration problems. This might manifest as touch sensitivity, proprioception, which means body positions sense, or gravitational insecurity might make lying on a high bed frightening. Sometimes covering the child with heavy blankest helps them to feel grounded.

When we get into bed it's time to forget about the day's business, shut out environmental distractions, and slow our heart rate and metabolism. As our bodies start to drift, so do our brains. During the day, brain waves might run at 14 Hertz (cycles per second) or more. When they start to slow down, they first go into an "alpha" rhythm (about 10 Hz), and then gradually go into the deep sleep rhythm, called "delta", about 4-7 Hz.

Setting up the environment in the right way can go a long way toward helping us relax. So will keeping to a regular routine. The body gets used to it and knows when it's time to slow down and get ready to sleep. Here are a few ideas:

A warm bath and hot milky drink. The warm bath relaxes the body, and allows the metabolism to slow down as it does not need to be so busy generating heat. Warmth also relaxes muscles. Warm milk contains an amino acid called Tryptophan which is a naturally occurring sedative. Obviously avoid drinks such as Coca Cola, tea or coffee, which all contain caffeine. Avoid also activities that are arousing or frustrating; just before bed is not the time for them to be getting upset about their homework or frustrated with their Gameboy.

Have your child take a nice warm bath and maybe drink some warm milk. His or her body will start to relax and the metabolism will slow. Warm water allows the body to stop the work of keeping itself warm. The bath will also ease tension in all of the muscle groups. Warm milk has Tryptophan in it. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a natural sedative. Drinking the milk will also help your child to wind down. It goes without saying that they shouldn't be drinking anything with caffeine. This includes Coke or Pepsi, and other soft drinks, as well as coffee or tea. Also around bedtime they should be engaging in quiet activities, not worrying about homework or playing an active computer game.

Read your child a story at bedtime. Make sure that there isn't anything frightening in it. Besides having a calming effect, you are engaging in some special time together. Knowing that they are loved and cherished, tells children that their world is safe. When you're finished reading, turn on a recorded story that is peaceful and quiet. Turn off the lights and soon he'll be listening with closed eyes and drifting off.