It sounds simple enough – just lay down, relax, and go to sleep. Unfortunately, getting to sleep is anything but simple for a lot of people – including children. Sometimes it can be difficult to turn off the brain and tune out or to wind down little busy bodies. Sometimes medicines are indicated to help people to fall asleep. But sometimes performing some simple acts that relax the body and calm the mind are enough to ease children into soothing slumber.
Here are some relaxation tips to try. As always, consult your primary care provider to find out if it is safe for your child to engage in any physical activity.
Remember to Breathe
- Sit or stand up straight
- Inhale through the nose, expanding your diaphragm, allowing your stomach to rise
- Hold the breath briefly
- Slowly exhale through the mouth, allowing your stomach to fall
As you exhale, tell yourself “my body is relaxed and calm”.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- The goal is to become intimately in tune with the way your body feels during states of tension and relaxation.
- Begin by sitting or lying comfortably.
- Take a minute to perform Deep Breathing while you feel your body begin to relax.
- Most people start with muscle tension at their feet and work their way up to their face.
- Tense the muscles in one of your feet and hold for 10 seconds. Then release.
- As you release your muscles, become aware of how the relaxation feels to your body.
- Stay relaxed and continue Deep Breathing for a few seconds before moving on to your other foot.
- Continue tensing and relaxing as you move up your body to your face. Tense one group of muscles at a time. Go slowly and stay aware of how your body feels at each step.
There are a lot of great massage books out there. This is one of my favorites. I recommend it all of the time to the patients in my practice. Massage can be an enjoyable, relaxing experience for both the parent and the child.
Other ways to relax before bed include coloring, drawing, reading paper books, and doing puzzles. Remember to turn off all electronic devices 1-2 hours before bedtime. Unplug as you power down!
Relaxation techniques can be used alone, or in combination with other therapies that your medical provider recommends. Try a few. You might find new and different ways to help your child to relax before bed!
For more information about your child’s sleep, click here: www.emeraldcoastsleep.com.