Six Ways To Help Your Anxious Child Sleep

Sleep is so important, particularly for children, as they do most of their growing at night while sleeping. Most children aged between 5 –12 should be getting between 10 – 12 hour per night. There are exceptions to this rule, some kids just don’t need that much, but generally speaking 10 – 12 hours is the ideal.

Often if a child is struggling with anything in their lives, falling asleep at night becomes more difficult for them. This then has a flow on effect because with less sleep, they are less able to cope with daily activities, they are then more likely to act out, and/or become more anxious, which then makes it harder for them to get to sleep the next night. Slowly, over time, their behaviour can deteriorate where it then becomes difficult to tell whether their acting out is due to a real issue or is just sleep deprivation. Most of us have had some experience with sleep deprivation and know how quickly we can unravel when we haven’t had enough sleep. Kids are the same.

If your child is struggling to fall asleep, here are some ideas to help your child settle and sleep at night:

  • Develop a consistent nighttime routine. A consistent routine gives your child the right cues that it is time to wind down and go to sleep.
  • Don’t allow computer games at least 1 hour before bedtime. Computer games are very stimulating and do not promote a sleepy, relaxed mood which is needed for sleep.
  • Put some relaxing music on. For children who find it hard to stop thinking, having music to listen to can be a healthy distraction from their thoughts.
  • Spray Lavendar oil on the bed. Lavender oil has been shown to have a calming effect and improve sleep in some children.
  • Check your child doesn’t have any respitory issues, blocked noses or asthma can make it much harder to sleep. A vapourizer can often help with these issues.
  • Have a ‘tuck in conversation’ where you ask about their day, what they are looking forward to tomorrow and what they are grateful for.

There are many reasons why a child might not be settling at night, and this can often be a symptom of a deeper issue. So, if you have been struggling to settle your child at night for quite some time it is worthwhile consulting your GP or a child psychologist to assess whether your child’s sleep issue is part of a bigger problem. A good night’s sleep is definitely worth pursuing as not only will your child’s quality of life improve, but fewer tantrums and a calmer child will help your quality of life too!

By Emma Bevan for Emma Bevan Child Psychologist