If you are unsure as to whether your child or teen is getting a good quality sleep, ask them if they remember their dreams. Your child may have no trouble falling asleep (simply due to exhaustion) but then seem to wake a few times during the night or wake in the morning still feeling tired or groggy. If they are not remembering their dreams upon waking (we usually forget our dreams a short while after waking which is totally normal) then they are probably not getting through to the last stages of their sleep cycles and into that deep, healing, rejuvenating stage of sleep that we all need.
If your child is taking more than 30minutes to fall asleep, is not remembering their dreams, are waking frequently during the night and are waking tired in the morning, then chances are they are not getting a good quality sleep.
One strategy that I have found particularly helpful for my family and clients is to spend some time in bed practising some calming activities before sleep. This helps to promote a calmer mind and better quality of sleep (maybe even a sleep in!).
Here are my top 5 calming activities that can be performed in bed and that can be adapted for any age.
- Limit the use of screen time at least 1-1.5 hours before the desired sleep time. Yes that’s right. Put away the phone, laptop, Ipad etc and do “something else”. Our older kids and adults may decide to watch TV or read a book but, be mindful of your choices. (Bedtime is not the time to watch that horror movie).
- If you have not used a journal before and are worried you would not have anything to write about then take a look at this article, 35 Journalling Prompts. Journalling is not about keeping a diary. A journal is a great dumping ground for whatever is on your mind so that it does not keep you awake. Make sure to record the date of the entries so as you can look back and track any patterns that may emerge.
- The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. These structured patterns help to promote relaxation and improve insomnia. Pop on some relaxing music or a guided meditation and just let your mind wander. See zentangle.com for more information.
- Listen to a guided meditation or some relaxation music. I have recorded some meditations on my YouTube channel for our younger kids or look up Jason Stephenson on YouTube for our teens and adults.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is a deep muscle relaxation technique that can help to control stress and relieve insomnia. Script this for your younger kids at first so that they do not have to think about what they are doing and can just concentrate on relaxing. Our older kids, teens and adults can do this for themselves. You can find a recorded link here and a written script here.
For more techniques and strategies that you can use to ensure a successful night’s sleep, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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