I did my grandmother thing last week, caring for little ones- and Mum and Dad too! I did a double sleep over. Well, if that’s what you would refer to it as. There was not much sleep. . And yes, there was sickness in the house so a lot of vomiting and up and down through the night
Oh boy! I was zoned out and struggling to keep things together. Coffee kept me going for a bit but really it took me the entire weekend to recover.
I was really reminded how important our sleep is and how difficult it is to function without it.
Way too often I have kids who come to work with me who are so tired. They sit with me pale and pasty looking and often yawn when we are in the midst of doing some artwork. I wonder how they can possibly take things in at school when they are so tired.
Sleep is so important to us- children and adults. Adults can muddle through the day with sleep deprivation for a bit but kids don’t know what’s hit them.
They can appear
Why is sleep important? It’s nature’s healer. Our body regenerates while we sleep, new cells are formed, we recover from the day’s trials and tribulations as well as the highs and excitement of adventures and experiences. We digest our day, take in what has been learnt and form new pathways to learn more. Our nervous system has an opportunity to reset itself and restore calm to our body. Sleep helps us to work through the social interactions that have challenged us in our day too.
WHY SLEEP DESERTS US
There are many reasons why sleep doesn’t come easily to children and sometimes it’s age dependent/ developmental. Some of the things that I am aware of that set children up for difficulty sleeping are:
Fear and anxiety: nightmare and night terrors
Feeling not good enough
Feeling that they don’t fit in anywhere
Relationship issues with peers
Busyness and lack of balance
A stressful house
Lack of safety
Our nervous system is wired for threat to our wellbeing. The adrenals kick in when we are threatened, telling our bodies to be ready to fight, fly or freeze. All energy is devoted to getting those muscles in action in whatever way is appropriate. Once cortisol comes on board in our body it helps bring us back ”online” or calms us down. Reflection or hindsight enables us to look at what set the process in motion and we can understand how to avoid it in future or to stop it in flight. The adrenal process in motion makes it hard to relax and sleep. Any one of the above list may spark the process. And turn things upside down
HOW CAN WE HELP?
We as adults need to help our children to calm down until they are able to do it for themselves. Children learn to do most things by trial and error, being persistent in trying, and by watching adults’ role model how to do things.
There are strategies that can be used but most important is having “breathing” in the day. Breathing means having a balance between activity and rest. Just as the body has a natural breathing in and out- the breath! awake and asleep, our body responds well to having active and quiet time… running around and sitting, playing with others and having time alone, doing and being.
We can also set the tone in the home of quiet and peacefulness. We can:
model quiet time.
turn off the “noise”, technology, and loud music, radio
have mood lighting, soft music, and elements of nature- a table of seasonal things, flowers, and found objects
eat seasonal foods
develop rituals that tell children that quiet time is coming up soon
and have a routine that is maintained
I recall a family I worked with years ago in a kindergarten. They always had quiet time in the middle of the day. Family members retreated to their rooms and read, played quietly, napped. They stayed there until time was up and then were refreshed and ready for the next half of the day. Sounded great. It also meant for sane parents!
The body has a natural rhythm and it’s important to respect it.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHILDREN DON”T HAVE ENOUGH SLEEP?
I am sure that you can pretty much guess this!
They are grumpy
They find it really challenging to be reasonable
Their body is using all its energy just staying awake leaving nothing left to learn at school
They fight with each other and with you
Even digesting food becomes a challenge
They simply cannot manage
And when it goes on for time it becomes chronic and although the body craves to be reset, it struggles with this too.
Is defined as anything that the psyche cannot cope with. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, social overwhelm.
Trauma sets the adrenal system in motion and when it’s triggered frequently the cortisol gets confused and doesn’t always come on board when it needs to.
Children are walking on eggshells all the time and there is no rest in the system.
There is a lot more to say about trauma but today is really about the day-to-day functioning within the family.
There are good websites that tell us more about sleep, and how to get more of it- even what’s an appropriate amount of sleep for each individual.
You are welcome to email SMS or me me about any of the above and we can chat some more about what is your biggest challenge in sleeping routines
Remember – you are the parent. Your child expects, and needs, you to set boundaries around routines and sleep schedules- even if they complain about it. They still need it. They need to know that you are in charge when it comes to what they really need to grow into healthy and happy human beings. They do not have the life experience to know it yet!