Advanced Pediatric Therapies


Help with Sleep

on October 15, 2013
Is this your kiddo?  Photo from
Is this your kiddo? Photo from

Sleep is a complicating issue in childhood.  Not getting enough can mean not being able to pay attention in school, difficulty processing new information and just general crabbiness.  And not just for your child!  Their problems with sleep can be stressful for the whole family.  There are some general things you can do to help facilitate a good night’s sleep.

First, it’s important to know how much sleep your child needs.  An infant may sleep up to 14 hours a day, but school age children need about 10 hours a night.  And don’t let late night texting fool you, adolescents require 9-10 hours of sleep as well.  After school activities, bedtimes and homework need to be monitored so you can help ensure some decent slumber.

Second, it is important to remember that calming ourselves is a self regulation tool that lots of our kids have not readily developed.  While we may have a cup of tea, take a bath or read a relaxing book, a child with SPD may not know how to wind down if revved up from a busy day.  They have trouble listening to their bodies and being able to do what they need to do in order to make a smooth transition to dreamland.

Follow these tips, some may even be useful to us as adults!  (Courtesy of North Shore Pediatric Therapy)

Strictly follow your nighttime routine as much as possible:  With siblings, practices, and crammed evening schedules this can be difficult but remember a young nervous system clings to routine.  It alleviates anxiety and is a great way to lay the groundwork for healthy habits in the future.  The predictable nature of routine lends itself to a brain that is able to calm down easier:  it doesn’t have to worry about what comes next.

Try some rocking:  There’s a reason mothers have been doing this for centuries!  Slow, linear movements are extremely calming to the central nervous system.  Rocking your child in a rocking chair is a great way to slow them down.  A swing in their room works too!  Check this one out from IKEA:

Bath Time:  It’s an easy way to incorporate calming warmth, parental bonding; not to mention removing the grime from playing in the mud all day!

Read a book:  Choose a book that is calming (save the books with lots of loud noises for daytime) and be sure to get in a good snuggle.

Avoid activities that are very exciting and alerting to your child:  This is not the time for tickles or light feathery touches, which can be too stimulating.  Also avoid jumping or spinning.  These activities are alerting for the nervous system.

No screen time before bed:  Pediatricians recommend no screens for 1-2 hours before bed.  Those little blue screens stimulate parts of the brain responsible for attention and alertness.  Better are reading, talking, playing quiet games and hugs of course!

Prevention is the best strategy:  Start off with a good sensory diet which balances alerting and calming activities throughout the day.  You can head off a lot of problems with a plan which incorporates activities in a way that supports both rest and play.

As always, ask your therapist if you have any questions.  We are here to help!

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