I am so fortunate that even in the midst of my own treatment for Lyme Disease, I never struggled to get to sleep. As a children's therapist, I see so many children who can either not fall asleep or can not fall asleep alone. This can be so frustrating for all involved.
This blog has tips to help prepare the body for sleep. All throughout Lyme treatment, both of my children struggled to fall asleep. Melatonin helped my son, but nothing really helped my daughter. Midnight would come and go on a regular school night and she would be wide awake. Frustrating!
My husband and I experimented with using a structured sleepy time routine at about the same time that I discovered essential oils for sleeping. This seemed like the perfect marriage, and WORKED. With school starting in a week, it is time for us to get back into this routine again. And what a more perfect time to share it all with you!
Make Dinner Time an Intentional Time
No Chocolate or Food Dye
If you are going to get serious about bedtime, you have to think about it THIS early. Reserve all chocolate desserts and snacks for right after school. Get into a really good routine of either not having dessert after dinner or having something without chocolate or food dye.
No Electronics After Dinner
I know. You hoped I wouldn't say it, but it's true. Many moms out there will agree. Electronics can make some of our kids more hyper. We think games are a great way to unwind, but they do stimulate the brain. I am waiting for really good brain scan research to come out so I can link it here to show you just how important this step is!
The Structured Sleepy Time Routine Starts an Hour Before Bed
So, what is this routine and what does it look like? The first step in developing a structure sleepy time routine is to first determine what time you want your child to fall asleep. When this is determined, back this up by an hour, and this is when your sleep routine begins.
Let's pretend you have an older child and you really want them to fall asleep by 8:30pm. In this case, your routine would start at 7:30pm. Be particular and strict with this routine. You really want your child's brain to get into the habit of giving his/her body the message that it is time to sleep. My example below will follow the routine of the child who needs to fall asleep by 8:30pm. You can of course alter the times to fit the needs of your child.
Step 1: 7:30pm...Eat a Healthy Snack
This is not the time to grab a cookie and milk or strawberries and whipped cream. This snack is to be high in protein and low in sugar to help keep the blood sugar regulated. Remember to keep drinks at a minimum here. The snack is designed to help keep the belly satisfied so that a dip in blood sugar is not distracting to sleep.
Step 2: Do Something From the Approved Night Time Activity List
Before you even start this routine, sit down with your child to create a list of quiet, soothing night time activities. These could be things like taking a warm bath, playing chess, coloring in a coloring book, drawing with soothing music in the background, etc. The activity needs to be able to get the message to the brain that your child is ready for calm. Tv and electronics will not work here..and that includes mom and dad's too! If the family room is bright and noisy with the TV blaring in the background, it will NOT send the proper sleepy message to your child's brain. You are all in this together: Team Sleepy Time.
Every night, your child can pick from the list of calm activities and will participate in one until 8pm. Some parents allow the food and quiet activity to coincide, others keep it separate. You get to decide, just make sure that it ends by 8pm and that the energy is calm.
Step 3: 8pm...Time to Get Ready For Bed
Now it is time to brush teeth, wash face, go potty, get into jammies etc. Some children do this quickly and others take a REALLY long time. If your child is young and gets distracted, help him remember by creating a chart for the wall that gives pictures (like a tooth brush) or words (go potty) that will help him remember what the next steps are. This is also the time that mom or dad fill up the bedroom diffuser to help prepare the room for sleep.
Sleepy Time Child-Friendly Diffuser Blends to Try*
1. Sometimes something as simple as 3 or 4 drops of Lavender will work
2. Maybe try a 1,2,3 blend of Roman Chamomile (1 drop), Calming Blend (2 drops), and Lavender (3 drops)
3. Our favorite at my house is 3 drops of Cedarwood and 3 Drop of Bergamot (great for anxious feelings)
Every diffuser is different. Use the above ratios as a guide. Your diffuser may need more or less overall oil.
* Tip: When you find a sleepy time blend that you like, make a larger batch of it and pour it into an old, empty clean essential oils bottle. Now you have it pre-measured and blended and ready to go...just add a few drops to the diffuser and it's sleepy time.
Step 4: Story Time
Depending on how fast your child is with getting ready for bed, she how has between 15-20 minute to read or to have a book read to her. Remember to keep the lights lower, voices soft and energy calm. This is the last step before lights go dark. The diffuser at this point is already running. Your child's limbic system is beginning to calm as he breathes the oils in through his nose. Sleep is near...
Step 5: Say Good Night
Woo hoo! (Shhh) You made it to the end. It is time to say good night. Whether you use a nightlight, hall light or dark room probably depends a lot on how fearful your child is and how active his imagination can be at night. Just be sure his natural melatonin has an opportunity to get naturally activated (mine can't with even my closet light).
This 5 step method works because it relies on habits and calming activities combined...so be patient and let habit and routine help create the success. If it takes a couple of weeks, it takes a couple of weeks! Stay at it. Habits, essential oils and calm activities are the perfect recipe for a successful night's sleep. Let me know how it goes. Staying with this routine saved my daughter and allowed her to sleep fully for the first time in a couple of years. Give it a try tonight!
Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils
Something to Think About Many already have essential oils that they love. I will caution you. Not every oil is the same. Make sure you do your research to determine that the company you choose produces therapeutic grade oils, otherwise you are buying concentrated perfume that will not help your health at all.
These blog entries are written by our very own clinicians. When inspiration hits, another entry will be logged.
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