Sensory Issue Two: Bedtime Drama
(Scroll down for tips on video)
Bedtime can be a very stressful time in many households. While you may be exhausted and ready to get some sleep, your child may have a different idea! Getting your child settled down and ready to catch some zzzz’s should be simple, right? But we know this isn’t always the case!
Tip #1 – Establish a Predicable Bedtime Routine
Having an established, consistent routine can help your child recognize that it is time to start settling down and getting prepared, both physically and mentally, to go to sleep. Having a predictable set of steps to reach that goal is essential. Try starting with a warm bath with essential oils for calming and play quiet, soothing music in the background. When your child gets out of the tub, dry them off with firm pressure on the towel, which provides calming input to the body; you can also massage them with scented lotion with firm pressure to provide additional relaxation. Finally, once your child is in bed, read a story to her to help her fall asleep. Use a white noise machine or app to provide soothing background noise if your child is a light sleeper to help “wash out” background noise that may awaken her, use soft lighting, and provide a favored stuffed animal or blanket to enhance relaxation.
Tip # 2: Limit Screen Time
As your child approaches bedtime, try to limit screen time, including iPads, phones, computers, and television to allow her to begin to mentally get ready for bed. These electronics emit a blue light that can confuse the body’s internal clock about when it’s time to sleep. Studies show that this blue light keeps our body alert and significantly reduces the amount of we sleep, leaving us feeling groggy in the morning! Sleep is essential for learning, memory, emotions, behaviors, and overall well-being. Rather than giving your child an iPad, give them a book to read or look at the pictures, have her listen to quiet music or a podcast, or complete a word search or coloring page. These activities provide a quiet, calming environment to allow your child to begin settling in for sleep, and you as well!
Tip # 3: Use of a Weighted Blanket or Compression Garments
Firm, consistent weight or pressure produces a calming response in the body. Try using a weighted blanket to provide a safe and effective amount of pressure. Try tucking the child’s sheet around the mattress at the bottom of the bed to provide a snug fit and light pressure. If your child does not like blankets or covers, try having him sleep in a compression shirt or shorts (many stores carry tighter compression clothing for various sports) to provide gentle compression.
Written by: Amy Elgin, MSOL, OTR/L, BCP