Let’s talk sleep!! 

There are several key elements that need to be considered when looking at your little one's sleep. This is essential in ensuring you have everything in place to support your child to have the best chance of not only falling asleep within a reasonable timeframe, but staying asleep all night! 

When exploring sleep strategies, a number of elements are considered. Firstly, it is recommended to look at their night time routine and/or wind down routine. We recommend that this routine is about 15-30 minutes long (where possible) to allow their little body to calm down and realise that is is time to sleep! This routine should look very similar every time (day or night). For example, enter their room, pop on some soothing white noise or children's calming music, put them in their sleep clothes and/or sleeping bag and dim the lights. Next it is nice to read some stories to them. This is also a beautiful opportunity to have some quality 1:1 time, but also supports the development of their communication! It is important to use the same language when putting them to bed - for example, 'it's sleep time'. These little 'cues' or 'sleep aids' are rituals that help tell your little one that it is time for sleep. Once your little one is calm and settled, you can choose to sit with them and implement some kind settling techniques, or, leave their room if they have got the 'self settle' down pat! 

Additionally, we always look at the sleep environment to ensure it is safe and suited to your little one. We love to support families to have as little light in the room as possible (black out blinds are the best if possible!) to support the development of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Having little to no light also supports your child to not get over stimulated by looking throughout their sleep place at all the fun, interesting and colourful things in their room! 

It is essential to ensure that they are getting enough sleep within a 24-hour period as this is imperative in supporting children to fall and stay asleep. Yes, you know that saying, 'they didn't nap so they will be exhausted and sleep well tonight' - actually, evidence would support that this actually isn't the case! Sleep actually promotes sleep, and therefore, children need to get enough sleep to then stay asleep. By children not getting enough sleep, or missing their day naps, actually increases their stress hormone cortisol, which can keep them up at night and make it extremely difficult to get to sleep. 

There are a number of different ways to support your child to settle to sleep and these are referred to as settling techniques. Finding the right technique for you and your family is essential as you need to be able to be consistent or else no one will sleep! Please message us if you want to discuss the different techniques, or book in a free consultation with one of our fabulous team members! 

It is essential to explore the child's individual developmental needs, and of course, seek any medical advice around any medical needs that may be impacting on a child's ability to get quality sleep! This is important to ensure all areas are being considered when implementing strategies. For example, if you have an older child that you are implementing visual aids to support them, you need to ensure they have the cognitive understanding to recognise and respond to these visuals/cues. Further to this, if you have a little bub on oxygen or a nasogastric feeding tube, there are other areas that need to be considered - but yes, positive and safe sleep rhythms have been known to be implemented with little bubs with additional needs (with consultation with medical professionals). 

Finally, it is REALLY important, and the most common thing we see that is overlooked, is to ensure the child is getting enough quality foods and fluids over their day to ensure they are full and can sustain a full night’s sleep! In addition, fresh air and sunshine is essential to support healthy sleep! Ensuring you and and your child get a few minutes in the sunshine everyday (ensuring to use sun smart protective clothing) is important as this contributes to the development of that wonderful sleep hormone, melatonin! 

Here at LCTS we are always supporting families who have challenges around their child's sleep - which we know impacts the entire family! All these elements are essential in exploring and altering you little one's sleep rhythm! 

March 28, 2022 — Light Coordination Therapy Services Admin