A surprising percentage of children, nearly 25-30 percent, have trouble getting enough sleep during their school-age and teenage years. Sleep deprivation can comprise the immune system, reduce memory and recall, as well as reduce academic performance.
Most children go through phases where they struggle to get the rest they need but some have a harder time than others. For those children who seem to be chronically sleep deprived there are ways to help. Developing healthy stress management and sleep habits can help a child for the duration of their lifetime.
Sleep Trouble Starts Early
Childhood sleep issues can start in infancy. All babies take time to adjust to a regular sleep schedule but continued problems may indicate a more serious issue. It’s been found that some babies who have sleep problems continue to have an irregular sleep pattern into toddlerhood and on into their school years where sleep problems are often magnified.
For the first time, children may experience separation from parents along with growing expectations and increased social pressure. Anxiety and stress can make getting good sleep even more difficult. Sleep-deprived children have trouble with their emotional regulation, social behavior, and can’t help but suffer academically.
How Meditation Helps
Meditation can be an effective way to improve sleep quantity and quality. Because stress often contributes to sleeplessness, stress management tools like meditation give children more control over their thoughts and emotions.
But meditation does more than make children feel good, it actually changes how the brain works and functions. While there are many meditative methods, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be one of the most effective for getting better sleep. This method focuses the mind on the present while helping the practitioner to let go of stress-inducing thoughts of the past or future. It can involve muscle relaxation or guided meditation through apps or an instructor.
Methods such as this help develop the prefrontal region of the brain. This region applies logic and reasoning to thoughts and emotions. Regular practice provides the emotional control to reduce stress and improve mood as it reduces stress and triggers the relaxation response. During this response, the heart rate slows and blood pressure goes down.
Using Meditation with Improved Sleep Habits
Meditation used in conjunction with good sleep habits can help children get restful sleep they need, and good sleep starts with the right conditions. Young adults that are still sleeping on their childhood bed may need an upgrade, but it makes sense to get a good but cheap mattress since they may be leaving the house in a few years. You can also invest in blackout curtains to help them sleep undisturbed by nighttime lights and lower the thermostat to keep the bedroom cool.
Other ways to help children sleep better include:
- Keeping a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps the body establish a regular sleep-wake cycle.
- Develop a Bedtime Routine: Routines help signal the body when to start the release of sleep hormones. Meditation makes a great addition to a bedtime routine because it can be down while lying in bed.
- Turn Off Electronics: The bright blue light from televisions, iPads, and cell phones can suppress the release of sleep hormones.
- Regular Exercise: Besides being good for overall health, exercise helps wear out both the mind and body so children are more tired at night.
- White Noise: White noise helps block outside sounds so your child can rest easier.