Oh man – how hard is sleep deprivation right? I said…HOW HARD…sorry, thought you’d nodded off there for a minute. OK so I have to confess, I am not a sleep expert. I have two kids and one was really NOT a good sleeper, the other woke every 3hours. It’s one of the biggest stresses us mums have so I have to at least share what I’ve learnt…it might even save your sanity!
The worst thing, in my opinion, is that this is the FIRST question anyone asks you when you have a new baby…”oh, and how is he sleeping?” Like it’s a test to your parenthood…and you needed more pressure right? Ugh. I’m hearing you.
Sleeping Like a Baby…
OK so first things first. Babies aren’t NOT, I repeat NOT supposed to sleep through the night. Biologically their survival actually relies on them waking, feeding, regulating their body temperature and breathing with yours…all that jazz. So if you have a new baby and they are waking up, I know it’s hard, but hang in there. And for heaven’s sake PLEASE don’t think you’re doing anything wrong! Ignore everyone when they ask that awful question and just paste that smile on and say “like a baby…he sleeps like a baby” …
Now having said that, it’s not that you can’t encourage better sleep with some gentle essential oils diffusing in the room or, in my case by co-sleeping. Co-sleeping completely saved my sanity as bub and I both slept better, so experiment and find what works for you.
If you do have a small bub what I will advise – as someone who has trained in Infant Massage Instruction – don’t massage straight after a bath. A bath is a highly stimulating experience for a new bub, as is a massage. Doing both together can just be too much for a baby under 6-9months of age. Be aware and take note of how stimulating these experiences are for your baby as every child is different – I know one of mine would find it too much even after 12 months of age (he actually hated the sensation of touch and water until nearly 4years of age!).
When Baby Graduates to Non-sleeping Child…
So if your bub has grown into toddler or small child and they are still struggling with sleep, this is for you…
1. Vitamin D – it’s recommended that children get outside and run around in the morning to encourage the correct hormone cycles for a good night’s sleep. This seems…weird perhaps, but it’s to do with the melatonin cycling up and down at the right times of the day for a solid night’s sleep. In the same way, a dark room at night is also important. (If you’re having melatonin issues, please get in touch as I have something that you need to try…)
2. Fresh air and exercise – in addition to having an adequate dose of Vitamin D, just getting them out into fresh air is more tiring and a great way to encourage better sleep. If they can run on the grass barefoot even better – this helps ground their energy and just helps them release anything that might be causing stress in their little bodies.
3. ESSENTIAL OILS – known for their calming abilities I have had countless, innumerable parents find sanity using a combination of essential oils with their kids before bed. You can drop some in the bath, on the pillow, or do yourself a favour and buy a diffuser and get that life-saver on for at least an hour before bed. Which oils? There are blends I can recommend if you’d like to get in touch, but in general your woody oils like Cedarwood and Vetiver are gently calming. Juniper Berry I find fantastic for kids struggling with nightmares. I’m totally getting some!
4. Sleep routine – it’s really powerful for children to have triggers that anchor their minds to the idea that sleep is coming. Having a fairly steady routine is good. I am not a strict routine person, however I allowed plenty of time at the end of the day for baths, dinner and quiet activities like reading and puzzles before bed. If you overlay with this your essential oils blend you have the magic combo. Smell is linked closely with memory in the brain and so if you create a sleep EO blend you can actually create that memory association between your sleep blend and bedtime to help things along!
5. Magnesium – epsom salt or magnesium flake baths are great to include as part of a bedtime routine but they have another purpose – magnesium is a necessary element in muscle relaxation. So to get little bodies ready for bed (and tired mummies), a soak in a magnesium bath is a great step.
6. Emotional/energetic considerations – slightly personal question: how is your love life?Ok it’s not just your love life, it’s the entire emotional environment around you and your child. Is your house harmonious? Kids are sooooo perceptive to your emotional state and that around them that this WILL determine how secure they feel and how readily they settle to sleep (and into everyday activities as well). So what are they picking up and is it time to create change in their emotional environment?
7. Full bellies – quite often people assume you need to feed them up to get them down. Some children will actually find a full stomach quite uncomfortable and it’s best to allow at least an hour between dinner and bedtime. My kids both slept on their stomachs and one in particular could not sleep if there was any tension in his stomach (yep, that child again!).
Advice Up to Your Eyeballs…
I am sure there are many tips and you’re in advice up to your eyeballs – explore and find what works for you. Give the child every opportunity to feel safe, protected and then create a really dark, peaceful, nice smelling space that they (and you!) want to relax into.
Finally, if nothing is working and you really are stretched to your limits, get in touch for a free 20min consult: firstname.lastname@example.org I have had people (adults as well) who weren’t sleeping and after ONE kinesiology session the problem has resolved. There really are solutions for you so I ask that you keep seeking. Don’t ever believe there is no support…you just have the challenge to find the right support for you.