Kids Sleep Meditation: 6 Daily Practice Dos and Don’ts
Guest Author Dr. Ashley Olivine
Bedtime battles, late nights, rushed mornings, and moody days are all too common. The evening stretches on as that early bedtime goal slips out of view. Tensions run high as the struggle to sleep gets bigger. By the time everyone is finally in bed for the night you know it is too late. There is simply not enough time before the alarm will go off. You groan and go to sleep, dreading the challenges of the following day. When the alarm goes off you want nothing more than to push snooze… or chuck the torture device across the room. The day drags on with more grumpiness than you care to admit. Life should be more than this. You deserve more. Your family deserves more. A simple and effective kids sleep meditation can help.
In this article you will learn the importance of sleep, how to get more, and tools to help. This applies to kids and adults, with some variations. You will learn how to overcome challenges such as schedule changes and daily practices to get (and keep) things on track. What are the key dos and don’ts of pre-sleep routines? I’ll fill you in. Plus, you will learn about one of my favorite items to incorporate in pre-sleep routines for kids. Bonus: adults may like it, too! So, if you, your child(ren), or your family has been struggling to get enough quality sleep, this one is for you.
Why is sleep so important, anyway?
Enough quality sleep is essential for optimal child development and functioning.
Kids who don’t get enough quality sleep struggle in areas such as:
- Memory processing
- Athletic performance
- Keeping up with their well-rested peers
Sleep impacts both physical and mental or emotional health. The bottom line is that kids need enough sleep, and not just to perform at their highest potential. They need it to be well physically, mentally, and socially.
Some signs of inadequate sleep include:
- Tantrums or emotional outbursts
- Lack of motivation
- Underperformance in academics (compared to their own ability)
- Needing lots of breaks or extra rest
- Difficulty in relationships
- Daytime sleepiness
If your child struggles to get enough quality sleep, I have your back. I’m going to share how to use a kids sleep meditation to get things on track. Yes, it’s possible to get on a good sleep schedule no matter how extreme things may be now.
How do I get sleep on a good schedule?
Okay, so you and your kids may be up late and sleeping in. Sometimes the sleep challenges become most noticeable when the wakeup time needs to be earlier. Maybe it’s back to school time after a break. It could just be the difference between weekdays and weekends. You know what I’m talking about, right? Things get a little lax when there aren’t any early morning requirements the following day. Then those early mornings creep up and it’s like a nightmare!
There are some important things to keep in mind when shifting to an earlier sleep schedule.
Schedule change DO: Try to prepare ahead of time and shift gradually.
Try to prepare ahead of time as much as reasonably possible. Ideally, adjust bedtime no more than 15 minutes earlier per week. Trying to force kids to go to sleep before they are tired will cause more harm than good. Start with a time they are likely to be able to fall asleep within 15 minutes and go from there.
No lying in bed awake for 20+ minutes! This can lead to insomnia, more trouble falling asleep, and a later sleep time. It can also create or increase a negative association with sleep, which perpetuates the problem. Patience is key, trust me on this one.
There is an exception to this rule of gradual change. If it’s not possible or reasonable to shift gradually, or if it’s too late, there is another way. Perhaps there’s a big schedule change. A late night and early morning results in way, way too little sleep. Exhaustion sets in and the child is extremely tired – very ready to fall asleep. It’s okay to move bedtime up more than 15 minutes at once in this case. However, don’t take it too far. Don’t put the child to bed any earlier than the goal bedtime. If there is a big difference between the previous and new bedtimes, try to split the difference.
Schedule change DON’T: Don’t stress about it.
Stress is counterproductive. It can interfere with both adult and child sleep. Yes, an adult who is stressed can negatively impact the ability of a child to sleep. You may think this is easier said than done. Okay, just do the best you can. Don’t get too serious about adjusting the schedule perfectly. It’s okay to have “off” nights. Things may not go as planned. That’s okay, too. Just keep trying. Prioritize sleep and keep it as consistent as you can, within reason.
If you’re wondering how to get bedtime shifted earlier, the next section is for you. A pre-sleep routine, along with daily and nightly habits, make it easy.
How do I create a good pre-sleep routine?
The time leading up to bedtime is important for sleep. It also impacts the chances of being able to stick to a sleep schedule. There are some key elements and daily practices to a great pre-sleep routine. This is like magic to get kids on board. It helps them move from daytime to bed and sleep without the fight.
Pre-sleep routine DO: Create a positive pre-sleep experience together.
First, set an example. As a parent, prioritize your own sleep and create a routine for yourself. Include your child(ren). Get them involved in the process and decision making. This will help them to be more in favor of following through. Create a positive, repetitive experience together. When you are not on the same page, compromise. Take what you can get now with the intent of improving gradually if needed. Try to explain the reasons why it’s important to prioritize sleep. This will help to get them on board. Really listen to their concerns and objections to come to a mutual understanding and middle ground.
A kids sleep meditation is a magical element to include in the pre-sleep routine. It helps to move from a little tired to fast asleep. Bonus: it makes the whole experience more positive. Kids (and adults) actually look forward to it! More on that later.
Pre-sleep routine DON’T: Don’t force it.
Don’t force the pre-sleep routine or earlier bedtime. Pushing too hard, just like shifting too fast, can hurt more than it helps. Again, it can lead to increased negative feelings about sleep. This can make the problem worse, increasing the risk of insomnia. It can be a problem even if the child does want to sleep.
Want to know more detailed ideas for a positive pre-sleep experience? I’ll cover that in the next section.
What can I do to make the pre-sleep routine a positive experience? Hint: there’s a kids sleep meditation.
As parents, we know kids have their own opinions. They can think for themselves, and their thoughts aren’t always aligned with ours. Kids have their own likes, dislike, and challenges. Sleep is no different. They need a pre-sleep routine that works for them. If they feel like it’s a chore or they’re struggling, then it won’t work as well. That’s one reason I really like and recommend something like a play couch.
Play couches are versatile. They can help kids get physical and mental exercise throughout the day, which improves sleep. Building and reshaping a play couch uses creativity and brain power. Jumping, wiggling, and everything else they do burns physical energy. That alone if a great combination… and there’s more. The play couch can fit into the pre-sleep routine.
Play couch DO: Create a relaxation spot – a great spot for a kids sleep meditation.
The pre-sleep routine can start with play, with or without a play couch. Then, use the play couch, pillows and blanket, or all of these options, to create a relaxation spot. This is a safe zone, a comfortable environment for the child. Do something to signal to the child and their brain that they and the play couch are transitioning. They are shifting from awake and active play to calm and relaxing. The play couch was a toy and is now a tool for relaxation and sleep. There needs to be something to differentiate the associations in the brain. This may be a fitted sheet on the play couch, or a special blanket or stuffed toy. It could be a special way of building the couch that is only for relaxation and pre-sleep time.
This relaxation spot is the perfect place to listen to a kids sleep meditation recording. It is like magic, helping kids (and adults) transition to sleep. Bonus: it improves the quality of sleep!
Play couch DON’T: Don’t play rough or wild once the transition to calm, pre-sleep has been made.
Active, rough, or wild play tells the brain that it’s time to be awake and active. It inhibits the transition to calm and sleep. Trying to “wear them out” needs to happen earlier in the day, preferably before dinner.
For little kids, maybe the play couch or relaxation spot needs to sleep too. It can stay in that configuration until the sun comes up. Similarly, Don’t use that configuration, special blanket, or specific brain signal during the day for active play.
Don’t continue to use the play couch as a pre-sleep tool if the child struggles to see the distinction between the active play time and relaxation time. Usually, this idea only needs to be expressed and reinforced a few times before kids catch on. However, there may need to be a break from using the play couch in this way (not letting them use it before bed for one night, for example). They must fully understand that play time is over, and that special blanket or other signal means they’re not running and jumping anymore.
What do I need to do for a kids sleep meditation?
A kids sleep meditation is a great way for kids to get relaxed, tired, and fall asleep, and sleep well. It’s simple. Just help your child get comfortable and limit distractions. It should be a calm, quiet environment. Lights off is best, but dim lighting is okay, too.
The free kids sleep meditation uses several key elements, including oxygenation through deep breath, muscle relaxation, and visualization. The best part is that kids (and adults) enjoy it! They look forward to it as a favorite part of the pre-sleep routine. After listening to the kids sleep meditation, just have the kid get into bed and fall asleep. If they have any trouble falling asleep, they can go back to the relaxation spot and listen again.
This article has provided a lot of information and examples. When applying everything to your life, remember to customize it.
Important reminder: Every child (and family) is different.
Customize this information for you your child(ren), and your family. Everyone has different needs. What works for one child may not work for you and your child. Also, this is a process. It may take time and several tries to find what works best. Use every attempt as an opportunity for feedback and adjustment. Determine what helps and go from there.
- Sleep is important for physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing.
- It’s possible to get great sleep, even when there are scheduling challenges.
- Do try to prepare ahead of time and shift gradually.
- Don’t stress about it.
- Pre-sleep routines are like magic to get on and stay on a good sleep schedule.
- Do create a positive pre-sleep experience together.
- Don’t force it.
- Relaxation environments and play couches are great tools to transition from day to night.
- Do create a relaxation spot.
- Don’t play rough or wild once the transition to calm, pre-sleep has been made.
- Plans may need to be adjusted to fit the unique needs of the child.