A good night’s sleep is essential for the health and wellbeing of individuals, but it can also mean a happier and more harmonious living space for everyone who resides under the same roof. Sleep quality has a massive impact on moods, health, appetite, emotional equilibirum and the capacity to focus on tasks at hand.
Kids with special needs can find it tough to get a good night’s sleep for a variety of reasons, so we’ve put together this handy list of tips to help you out:
1. Calming bedtime routine
It’s really important to establish a calming bedtime routine that stays more or less the same every night. Kids feel reassured by predictability and routines, and they can trigger mental readiness for sleep as the day winds down. The order is up to you, but it’s lovely to read a book or have cuddles right before lights out.
2. Regular schedules
As mentioned above, kids can be cheeky little creatures of habit, and many respond well to regular schedules. A lot of people find that it helps to decide on a specific bedtime (or window of time) as a benchmark to have the kids dressed and ready for bed. That regularity can also help set their body clocks for sleep.
3. Experiment with bathtimes
If the kids are still energetic and get their second wind at bedtime it can help to change things up when it comes to bath time or showering. Some kids feel nice and drowsy after a bath, but for others it perks them up and energises them. If bathtime leads to chaos instead of calm it might be worth switching to mornings.
4. Introduce comfort toys
Let’s face it, there is nothing more reassuring then a much-loved comfort toy – so much so that many adults still cling lovingly to their own teddy bears years after they no longer need them. Comfort toys can help kids deal with their anxiety and insecurity, making them feel less scared and alone at bed time.
5. Comfortable bedding
It seems obvious, but it’s really important to make sure that bed linens and blankets are seasonally appropriate, so that children aren’t too cold or too hot. Good quality, natural fibres are best for comfort because they are breathable – and be sure to avoid hard or “scratchy” fabrics for those with sensory issues.
6. Nightwear and pyjamas
Choosing the right bedtime attire is another important factor. Comfortable, well fitting pyjamas are important, and letting your child choose their own special “jammes” can help. Alternately, try wearing a special sleeping bag instead of relying on blankets, or experiment with tighter bed clothing for some conditions.
7. Reach out to others for advice
It can feel like the loneliest place in the world to be, but I can assure you that thousands – if not millions – of other parents have also had to deal with children who have sleep issues. Reach out to them for advice: on forums or on social media or at the school gate. They are usually the ones with the best advice!
8. Seek help if nothing works
There is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help if nothing works to improve the quality of your child’s sleep. It simply happens that some kids need a bit of extra help in that department, and it could involve things like melatonin or medications under the supervision of your health care providers.
We hope these eight tips can help your child achieve a restful and restorative sleep. Like all things, it might take time to build new and successful habits around sleep, but the outcome is well worth all the effort. Sweet dreams!