During Summer time children’s routines tend to take on a mind of its own and ebb and flow into sleeping late, staying up late and traveling through the night. It is important to ease the children back into a routine that they become used to and can use throughout the school year.
A few bad habits which can be minimalised before bedtime include screen time and sugar. By decreasing both of these stimulants you will ensure the child can become calm and quiet before bed. If possible, try not to allow any screen time for at least two hours before bed. This will ensure that the childs minds are not overstimulated with sight and sound. Sugar intake, including fruit should not be eaten at least two hours before bed. This will ensure that they don’t wake up in the middle of the night with nasty dreams and beating hearts. By just eliminating these two elements before bed you will support your child in having a good night’s sleep so that they are ready in mind and body for what their school day has in store.
By introducing the following techniques, you will help bring calmness and quiet into the mind of the child before bedtime.
1) Just before putting them to bed start off with a breathing exercise that will help them to slow down their hearts and circulation. An example of this would be: start off sitting with legs crossed in easy pose/lotus pose pretending to zip their mouths closed, locking the zip and then throwing the key out of the window to ensure that they keep their mouths closed. They will then take 5 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose. When they breath in get them to lift their hands over their head and as they breath out they can bring their hands back to the floor or their laps.
2) Just before settling into bed make up a story that incorporates these yoga poses for sleep:
a) Happy baby pose: lying on their backs with their feet in the air, holding onto the bottoms of their feet rolling around. Could be a hippo or piggy rolling in mud, get them to mimic the sound of the animal. By rolling around they are massaging their backs and loosening up connective tissue which will allow for comfort when they sleep as well as aid in relaxation.
b) Childs pose: on their knees, get them to put their head on the floor so that they are curled over their knees, could be a mouse or a sleeping rock. This will start bringing the children into their bodies and loosening them up so that they become comfortable to sleep.
c) Legs up on wall whilst they are lying on their bed. This pose will slow down heart circulation and start to calm their bodies and minds.
3) Once the child is in bed and calm, tell them to close their eyes. You will then start to speak through a visualisation to them. This will help to bring their attention into their bodies and turn off their minds to the constant external stimulations they have throughout the day. A great visualisation that I find works really well is going through all of their five senses.
For example: you would start off by asking them to focus on sound, ask them what it is that they are hearing, can they hear noises far and close etc. Then move onto feeling, taste, smell and finally ask them what they are seeing behind their closed eyes, ask them to focus on the shapes and colours forming behind their eyes. This should be done slowly by using a calming and slow voice. The entire visualisation should take about 5 minutes so leave spaces of silence in-between talking, allowing time for the child to really get into the visualisation. You can then leave them with a kiss and cuddle and perhaps play a soothing song or Yoga Nidra for sleep as you leave them to drift into dreamland.
The following is a Yoga Nidra which I have taken from the Amrit Yoga Institute. “Yoga Nidra has been shown to help mitigate the effects of learning disabilities and hyperactivity disorders. It is best to do this laying down in a quiet and dark room. Your kids don't have to do anything.” Amrit Yoga Institute.