For the first year or so home, my youngest (adopted) child literally screamed himself to sleep. One of my adopted daughters would often yell out in her sleep (still does occasionally after 10 years), never fully waking up and never remembering it in the morning. Another one of our adopted children used to get to sleep okay, but get up during the night or wee hours of the morning, unable to fall back to sleep (and wander the house which also caused problems).
Adults may be able to self-talk and work through their night-time anxieties, but kids have less experience and big imaginations! Even as adults we understand that worries, fears, concerns often loom larger at bed-time, weighing on us. But children from traumatic backgrounds may have an even harder time with all of this. It’s harder for them to separate what’s real and what’s not, especially at night. And it can really affect their sleep which affects their days and the rest of the family, too. The cycle can spiral downward if it doesn’t stop.
Lack of good, restful sleep on an ongoing basis can affect a number of things and can be detrimental to their health. It is during sleep that our brains make a clean sweep of accumulated toxins, so among other things we can think clearer the next day. It’s during sleep that production of several hormones rises, including growth hormone. Ever hear that children grow in their sleep? Lack of growth hormone can impact not only growth in height but even cellular repair. Another hormone, lack of melatonin, the sleep hormone can cause greater sleep problems. A strong immune system is supported by good sleep.
Sleep is should be restorative and our children need even more sleep than we as adults do in order to function optimally during the day. I recommend making sleep a priority for your entire household. Try not to deal with stressful issues near bedtime. If you can table it until morning, do so. If there is always conflict over pajamas or tooth brushing, drop the issue or do a workaround – – maybe brush teeth right after dinner so it’s over and done long before bedtime, for example.
We are super careful not to use supplements with food coloring or msg (an excitotoxin to the brain). But using melatonin has helped so much, as well as other supplements depending on the person, and specific essential oils that are beneficial for sleep either for calming or with a sedative effect or to help alleviate racing/troubling thoughts. Some are effective to help with pain that may seem worse at night and be a hindrance to getting to sleep. There are different ones for different issues. With my large family, we have had lots of sleep issues which vary from person to person. I know I personally cannot take anything that will up my blood pressure. Essential oils have been a huge help to me, too as well as my kids. Wish I had had them sooner!
I want to emphasize that there are a lot of reasons you or your child may have difficulties sleeping.
IMPORTANT: I am not a doctor and nothing in this post is meant to diagnose, treat or cure anything. Please see your healthcare provider for any medical issues. I am not giving medical advice here.
And please don’t give up looking for the right solutions. There ARE solutions and it IS important.
When you become your own sleep detective you may gain new insight as to what you can change in your daily routines for optimal sleep to take place.
Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions. As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.
Contact me to request my free “Sleep Detective” PDF booklet to download. It’s a fun way to help your child or teen start to focus on their need for sleep and empower them to be an active force in making positive changes.
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