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How to Promote Healthy Sleep Patterns in Your Children

There are very few parents who are blessed with a child who falls asleep easily and sleeps through the night. For most of us the opposite was true, and we had to face a screaming, crying, tiny ball of frustration every night.

Then once you’ve finally found a method to deal with a colicky and finicky newborn, you discover that toddlers, preschoolers, and young children of all ages, can have their own set of sleep problems.

Don’t panic.

Just as you may have discovered some natural and soothing techniques to bring peace and restful sleep to that crying baby there are safe, healthy and natural ways to promote healthy sleep patterns in children of any age.

Common sleep problems with toddlers and the preschool ages include trouble getting to sleep, waking up frequently, and irregular sleep patterns.

Sleep experts all agree that developing good healthy sleep patterns start with a regular routine that creates an environment that is conducive to sleep, and sticking to that routine every night.

You Need a Night Time Routine

This nightly ritual can include taking a warm bath, brushing his or her teeth, saying prayers, having a little talk about the day, and the classic “bed-time story.”  Use of a transitional object such as a blanket or favorite teddy bear for your child to snuggle up with to help them to sleep is OK. In fact a good way to wrap up your bedtime routine is to read a favorite book or story while your child is tucked into bed with his or her favorite stuffed toy, “blankee” or other object. You can establish that the time to go to sleep is as soon as the story is over, and then end the routine by turning off the main light,  and saying a loving and gentle “goodnight.”

As you leave the room, remind your child that he or she cannot leave the bed until morning, and ignore any further questions or requests. Once your child has been put to bed, you must be sure to enforce the rule of not leaving the bedroom. If he or she does get up and leaves the bedroom, immediately insist that he or she returns to bed, and that the child’s own bed — not mommy and daddy’s bed, not the sofa downstairs – is the only place allowable for sleep. Hard as it may be, ignore all protests or requests and keep your interactions with your child to a minimum. Do not give in to “just one more hug or goodnight kiss.”

Establishing these kinds of rituals and patterns should help your child get to sleep and stay asleep. And remember to always use praise and love when your child goes to sleep without protesting, and sleeps through the night.

A Drug Free Technique for More Restful Sleep in Children

However, if after establishing and sticking to a regular nighttime routine, your young child is still experiencing sleep problems, never use any kind of medication to help your child sleep. There are safe, effective and natural ways to relax your children and ease them off to sleep. One such proven technique is acupressure.

Acupressure is an ancient Chinese technique that uses gentle finger pressure to stimulate the body’s own natural healing abilities. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM is based on the idea that Qi (pronounced “Chee”) is a vital life-force that is responsible for health and wellness. Imbalances or blockages of Qi result in the disease states recognized by allopathic (western) medicine. Sleep problems, even in children, can be treated by and alleviated by stimulating Qi flow through acupressure massage to specific areas in the hands, head, and face.

Gently and lovingly massage your child for about 5 minutes at the following points, you will be amazed at the results:

  • Take your child’s hand with his or her palm facing up. Now, find the juncture where the wrist meets the hand forming a tiny cleft at the base of the hand. With your thumb gently rub this point at the wrist.
  • The next acupressure point to massage to aid in sleep is located on your child’s face just between his or her eyebrows, at the place where the bridge of the nose and the forehead meet. Using the tips of your index and middle fingers, gently apply pressure to this spot.
  • The third and final sleep inducing acupressure point is at the indentation at the base of the skull on the back of the head. Again, use your middle and index finger to gently stimulate this point.

Even if you do not believe in Qi flow and the effectiveness of ancient Chinese medicine, massage and gentle touch is relaxing. It promotes bonding, love, and transfers a sense of security and warmth between the two of you, and that is something that will help you and your child both get a good night’s sleep!

About Cynthia Lechan-Goodman

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