7 Smart Sensory Tricks for Kids Who Have Trouble Sleeping - Pediatric Occupational Therapy - [Sensory Tricks for Kids Who Have Trouble Sleeping]
Bedtime. Many parents struggle with reaching this sometimes momentous daily nighttime activity but working for that chance to just breathe at the end of the day is achievable!
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Now, Let's Turn Those Frowns, Upside Down!
Although bedtime can generally be a difficult task for parents, for some families the frustration is deeper. For children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), bedtime can be a nightmare. For example, things that seem like minor irritations (chiming clocks, washers, dryers, people talking in another room, etc.) to most people can keep sleep out of reach for kids with SPD. Simple background noise can disrupt the sleep of those who struggle with SPD. Conversely, those who are tactilely sensitive may complain about pajama tags, the texture of their bedding, or the temperature of their room. Even when all of those conditions are met, those with SPD can struggle with calming their restless bodies.
For any child, sleep is a necessity for academic success. Moreover, kids with SPD especially need to focus and the assistance of a good night's sleep is an integral part of a strong school year.
Activites For Parents of Troubled Sleepers
Here are some ideas on how you can help your child get a great night's sleep:
1. Separate Your Child From His Or Her Siblings
Sensory kids need their sleep, so having other children in the room whose needs or comfort may interfere with a child who has SPD, can create hurdles. Added noises and distractions aren't beneficial, so this is a great option to provide peace and quiet to help your child sleep.
2. Use Noise-Canceling Headphones or Earplugs
Although it may not be possible to give every child his or her own room, having access to noise-canceling headphones or earplugs may be helpful. They are good at blocking out sounds (the hum of the freeway or passing traffic, distant trains, loud neighbors, crickets, etc.) that most wouldn't notice!
3. Use a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets provide a sense of safety and security that helps your child to relax, release muscle tension, fall asleep, and stay that way.
4. Create a Bedtime Routine
Routines help all kids, especially kids with sensory processing difficulties. Routines assist the mind and body in realizing that it's time to start winding down and preparing for sleep.
5. Have Your Child Wear Comfortable Clothes, While Sleeping In Comfortable Bedding
Clothing textures and bedding can be problematic. Soft textures are preferable among children with sensory problems. Ideally, you may want to work with your child in picking out fabrics that best suits him or her to avoid a meltdown, just in case you guessed incorrectly.
6. Avoid Use of Electronic Devices 1-2 Hours Prior to Bedtime
Watching television and playing video games are a couple of examples that can cause irritability and even anxiety. It's best to either limit or avoid their use, especially just prior to going to bed.
7. Encourage Use Of Sensory Toys Before Going to Bed
To induce calm and a peace, have your child play with sensory toys like tactile of fidget balls, chewable toys, or engage in light physical activity. Soft background music may also be helpful.
8. Build a Pillow Cave or BurritoAllows your child to feel a sense of safety and security. On warm nights, a weighted blanket may be too hot, so building a cave out of pillows or bundling them snugly with a lighter blanket may be an excellend alternative. A burrito can also be done, as more of a snuggling activity to do prior to bedtime, helping your child's muslces to relax.
Our Take Home MessageHere are some other pointers to help your child achieve a good night's rest:
- While it may be a little challenging, find the right combination and conditions of the aforementioned activitied to help your child.
- Stay with it and don't give up on finding the right combination, perfect for your child.
- Have fun!
- Remember, anything that'll relieve stress and pressure for your child (and you) is a step in the right direction!
Interested In Having An Additional Resource?
These are just a couple activities you can begin to incorporate into your daily routine. An occupational therapist can help you develop an individualized sensory diet for your child to help them begin to learn how to self-calm.
Wondering if your child may have possibly have a sensory challenge? We've complied a brief checklist to help:
We hope you've found this information to be useful! Thanks so much for reading our blog post.
Until next time . . .