5 Natural Sleep Aids For Children
Sleep issues in children are actually fairly common, and normally these are harmless; however consistent lack of sleep can have negative effects on a child’s health; which we will go into. In some cases, insomnia in children can be related to a more serious health condition, so a visit to the doctor is recommended in order to rule these out. Common health problems include; anxiety, depression, ADHD, thyroid disease, sleep apnoea, and asthma.
More so than adults, children really need to be getting good quality sleep, as this is when their body rests and restores. Children require more sleep than adults. Infants should be sleeping between 12 and 15 hours, toddlers 11-14, preschoolers 10-13, school-aged children 9-11 and teenagers 8-9. It should be noted also that the time that children go to bed can affect their quality of sleep. Those who fell asleep between 7 and 8pm slept better, compared to those who went to bed after 9 pm.
Rather worryingly, seventy percent of children are not getting enough sleep at night, which can hugely impact on their behaviour and performance the next day. Sleep deprived children can often become hyper and irritable, which will then make it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep the following day.
So, if you have tried getting your children into a relaxing bedtime routine, and they are still struggling to fall asleep or to stay asleep when they are in bed, there are some natural remedies that can help. Of course, all of these should be used at the parent’s discretion, and if you are worried about their sleeping, or are concerned that they might be suffering from an underlying health problem, do make an appointment to see your GP.
Chamomile is a really fantastic herb and is well known for its ability to relax people and help them fall asleep. In fact, it is used to treat a number of different childhood health complaints, such as colds, teething pain, colic, indigestion, restlessness, anxiety and irritability. It is also one of the most loved remedies for cranky babies and toddlers who cannot settle down and fall asleep.
Honey can be added if your child is over 12 months old if they are not keen on the taste. Honey should not be given to children under one though, as this can make them very ill.
Magnesium occurs naturally in the body but is really essential. Not only does it have a calming effect on the nervous system, helping your child to relax at bedtime, but research suggests that it could actually promote a more restful sleep as well.
If your child is struggling to fall asleep, additional magnesium can be given to them at bedtime in the form of a supplement. It should be noted though that it is incredibly important to check the dosage, especially if you are giving it to younger children. Too much magnesium can cause abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea, and even low blood pressure.
There are also a number of different types of magnesium supplements as well, so it is important that you are getting the right one. More often than not, magnesium supplements are prepared by combining the mineral with organic amino acids to improve the absorption rate. However; the type of amino acid that the magnesium is mixed with can actually alter the effects of the supplement. Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide can cause laxative effects. This is certainly not likely to help your child sleep better, so be sure that you are picking the right one.
This gentle herb is absolutely fantastic at helping to calm the nervous system, so it a great natural remedy for children to take at bedtime. It is most commonly used to treat restlessness, pain, and sleeplessness.
It should be noted that this remedy is safe for children over the age of two, and despite being related to other poppies, the California Poppy does not contain any opium or opiates. It is actually a very common herb to be found in a number of different calming remedies and is very effective at helping children get to sleep.
Lavender is a really popular remedy, and even the smell of lavender will help people to relax. It is one of the most common ingredients in aromatherapy and is used to calm the nervous system and promote restful sleep.
Introduce this essential oil into their bedtime routine to really help them relax and induce sleep. There are a number of different lavender bath products, or you can spray a few drops of the oil onto your child’s pillowcase before they go to sleep.
An important thing to remember when using essential oils though is that they should not be applied directly to the skin, as this can burn the skin, or at best cause irritation. Caution should also be taken of your child is asthmatic, as this can make their symptoms worse. If you are at all worried about the safety of using lavender around your child, make an appointment with your GP, who will be able to tell you whether it is a suitable remedy or not.
Tire them out during the day
It’s rather stereotypical that by wearing children out during the day, they will be more tired at night, but the simple fact is, that it is true. If your child spends a lot of time sitting still during the day, say, playing on the computer, or on a games console, the likelihood is that they will not sleep very well at night.
Children and adults bodies require regular physical movement and exercise, in order to burn off enough energy to ensure that we are tired enough to sleep at night. As a goal, try and get your child to engage in 30 minutes of outdoor time every day in order for them to run around and burn off energy.