A wakeful baby affects the whole family. As a parent, sleep deprivation builds up over time and your own ability to fall asleep can diminish. With so many sleep training techniques available it can be difficult to know where to start or what to try next. Here are some simple, gentle and safe techniques that can complement any bedtime routine and settling method.
The ancient wisdom and energy systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians and yogic Chakras offer much in the way of supporting calm and restful families. These ‘easy to do at home’ tips are used by complementary medicine practitioners such as kinesiologists, acupuncturists and aromatherapists. They can be applied to children of any age and when you take some well deserved time out – use them for yourself.
How to calm and ground an active or anxious child
For some children, the simple task of settling down for sleep is their biggest challenge. Perhaps your child is very active and alert or they may be uncertain or anxious about sleeping. Acupressure and massage are lovely ways to connect with your child through touch and at the same time calm their mind, body and spirit. This technique supports the adrenal glands (which release stress hormones) and helps them to feel grounded, safe and relaxed. Do this as part of their bedtime routine; perhaps after a bath.
- Place your hands on the soles of your child’s feet and gently massage: small and large circles will feel very relaxing.
- Move your hands to encircle the ankle bones and massage around their ankles.
- If you like, use a massage oil blend from the list below. One to three minutes is plenty of time.
Emotional stress release and nightmares
Every day children are learning about emotions; what they feel like, how to express them and how to let go and move on. Emotional resilience through understanding can be greatly enhanced by this supportive technique. By doing this before sleep, you are helping your child to connect to their rational mind, to process the day and be at peace.
- Lie your child down on your lap or in your arms and place one hand across their forehead.
- If your child is old enough, talk with them about their day – what was difficult and what went well. By touching their forehead, you are bringing blood to their frontal lobe which supports reason and logic.
- If they are happy in this position, you can also place your other hand on the base of their skull (occiput) which will help with visual processing and nightmares.
Essential oils to help children sleep
Essential oils are a lovely way to create a calm space for sleep. For children, it is best to use essential oils at half strength which means using one drop of essential oil to five millilitres of carrier oil such as almond oil. You can use the oil as a massage blend, put drops in the bath or on their pillow. If you have an oil burner the whole family will benefit from the aroma! For children under six months of age, use only lavender and chamomile.
Lavender: a nurturing oil for tension, relaxation and nightmares – great to mix with chamomile oil
Chamomile: the greatest relaxing oil, a known sedative
Frankincense: most commonly used for nightmares, also helps to slow down and breathe deeply
Neroli: for tense and stressed children, helps with falling asleep
Cedarwood: stimulates the pineal gland which releases melatonin to help regulate the day-night cycle (circadian rhythm), and
Marjoram: soothes anxiety, calms and warms the soul.
Sleep deprivation can wear you down, so remember to be kind and gentle to yourself every day. A mantra such as“This too shall pass” is a loving reminder that most things with parenting are phases that you will one day look back on as a distant memory. Nourish your mind, body and spirit in little ways each day through nourishing foods, gentle exercise, baths and foot massages. Once you find peace and relaxation, your child may just pick up on your vibe!
Article provided by Kate Pamphilon -a Canberra-based kinesiologist and writes about complementary medicine for her blog, Holistic by Nature (http://www.holisticbynature.com.au). Kate works with clients to clear what stands in their way from living a full and happy life – book in to see her at the Live Well Spa & Wellness Centre