No matter what stage of life you're in, sleep is essential to staying happy, healthy and functional in everyday life. Despite how critical sleep is for us, nearly 30% of children have trouble with achieving good sleep.

One reason for sleep issues may be related to the way a child’s body experiences and reacts to the world around them. Sensory stimulation (smells, sights, sounds, touch) can actually make it difficult for some children to achieve a state of calm and relaxation, which is necessary for sleep.

Some researchers in the field of sleep have discovered a significant link between sleep behaviors/patterns and the way one’s body experiences sensory stimulation. Research has found that children who are overly sensitive to sights, touch, movement, and sound actually have greater difficulty with achieving good sleep.

Children with sensory needs are even more likely to have challenges falling asleep, staying asleep, and being comfortable while sleeping. There is even evidence that sleep challenges increase if a child has sensory challenges on top of other issues, such as ADHD, ASD, and/or intellectual disability.

If sleep difficulties persist, they can have a lasting impact on behavior, self-regulation, and even depression. One way to tackle sleep issues is by helping a child manage their levels of over-stimulation. Participating in calming, soothing sensory routines can reduce over-stimulation, bring about calm, and help your child get ready for sleep.

Children with sensory processing disorder frequently show sensory seeking around bedtime, and these behaviors cause over arousal, making sleep hard to achieve.

Many parents are at a loss for what to do, and may resort to melatonin or giving a prescription medication. Other parents seek natural solutions, environmental changes, or a combination of all of these methods.

When occupational therapists help parents, they often suggest activities to lower the child’s arousal state, and to calm the child in order to allow the them to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Expert tips to decrease arousal and increase calm:

  • Avoid bright screens (TV, computer, phone, iPad) 
  • Relax in a dim, quiet space before heading to bed 
  • Choose a relaxing activity, like reading, drawing, jigsaw puzzle, word/number games (Sudoku, crossword, word search), cards, or knitting 
  • Listen to quiet music that is soothing 
  • Wrap body tightly in a blanket or sit under a weighted blanket 
  • Take a warm shower or bath 
  • Try yoga 
  • Getting a tight hug from a family member, or roll an exercise ball firmly over your child’s back while they lie on a mat 
  • Rhythmic motion, such as gently rock in a rocking chair
  • Deep breathing: blow up a balloon several times, drink room temperature water through a straw, or suck on a sugarless mint.

 A strong sleep routine that incorporates soothing sensory stimulation can make all the difference for the health of your child.

With just 20 MINUTES of PLAY A DAY with our Slow Down & Slumber Kit, you can get your child on the path to a good night’s sleep.



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