Children have their own preferences around adopting a bedtime routine. As a parent or caregiver, the best practice to get them to bed is one that works for you and your family. What you can also use to help kids fall asleep faster and relax deeply is including in the child’s bedtime routine a practice of sleep meditation.
We share our most helpful tips to help your child relax before getting into bed and find sleep with our favorite relaxation meditations.
Simple exercises kids can do to relax before going to sleep
Let’s talk a bit about a bedtime routine. Preparing for sleep is an important step that you can do as a family.
Here is how to create the perfect sleep environment.
Stick to the time
Kids thrive on predictability. It gives them a feeling of security and banishes the anxiety of uncertainty. Also, it takes the brain up to 40 days to build a new habit. You can train kids to fall asleep at a given time.
Create a ritual around sleep
Spend some time with your child before they go to bed. You can take the time to read a good book, listen to a peaceful story, or simply cuddle with your child and let them share anything that may be on their mind. So, you can give your child a little oil massage by rubbing some sesame or coconut oil on the feet or a hot bath. Add a few drops of an essential oil for enhanced relaxation.
Reflection on the day
Like adults, children go through different emotions during the day. They can feel worried just like adults. Talking about the events of the day can help them process their feelings. Start in reverse order from just before bedtime and quickly run through the events. You can help them make sense of certain situations and get a different perspective.
What is sleep meditation?
Sleep meditation is a state in which the body is completely relaxed but the mind is aware and alert. It is an in-between state between being awake and sleeping. The practice of sleep meditation is used to relax body, mind, and spirit. A regular routine of bedtime meditation ensures that muscles let go of the tension they are holding, the mind becomes free of stress and anxiety, creating the perfect conditions for a calm and peaceful night.
There are many different kinds of meditations you can choose from – guided meditations, breathing exercises, story telling, and body scanning.
Does sleep meditation work for kids?
Sleep meditation works wonderfully well for kids of all ages. Here are some reasons why.
It is the perfect way to end the night for kids
Practicing sleep meditation every night before going to bed, creates for a child a safe, loving, warm, and comfortable environment. Children do well with routines if they can invest and participate in them. Allowing them to play a role, say in a guided meditation, can engage them in the process. And there are many fun activities that you can include. Kids can listen to a sleep story. They can use their imagination in practices that have visualization.
It benefits your child’s mental health
Other than helping children fall asleep and improve sleeping patterns, meditation and mindfulness improves their cognitive function, increases their ability to handle stress and anxiety, and decreases attention problems.
It is downtime for both adults and kids
Bedtime meditation can develop into a calm and peaceful time for the whole family, including the adults in the house. It is a great way to encourage kids to unwind and rest the body and brain.
Some good relaxation mindfulness activities to ensure a good night’s sleep for your child
Children worry, can feel anxiety and stress, and have trouble relaxing. These simple meditations can help your child with their sleep issues and mental health.
You can choose which of these meditations to use based on how your child is feeling that night. Feel free to create variations and choose a different story.
Blow those bad feelings away
This is a breathing practice to help kids release negative emotions and feel calm.
‘Lie down in your bed and begin to move your body around to get out the wiggles. Wiggle your arms and legs and your fingers and toes. Once you are done, come into a position you prefer and see if you can lie still. How was your day? Was there anything that made you sad or angry? If there was, you can take some time to help them shift how they feel about the issue by offering another way of viewing it. It’s important to validate how they feel, but help them look for the good, or the opportunity that came from that experience. Now tell them to take a slow breath in, “right into your belly. And as you breathe out, blow all those bad feelings away. Let’s do it one more time just in case there are any left. Breathing in slowly through the nose and sending the breath into your belly. Now open your mouth and blow all those bad feelings away.’
Fun body scan
Body scan meditations are great for kids of all ages to become aware of their bodies, increase focus, and find relaxation. Feel free to add a story.
‘While lying on our backs, let’s take 3 deep breaths together. Now imagine that you have a special torch. Wherever you shine that torch, your attention will go. Close your eyes. Beginning with shining your torch on your feet. Notice your toes, the soles of your feet, the ankles and heels. How do your feet feel? Are they warm or cold. Is there any tingling? Now shine the torch on your legs and your thighs. How do they feel today? Are they feeling relaxed and happy? Shine the torch on your belly and your back and your chest. How do they feel? Are they heavy or tight or happy and energized? Shine your torch on your arms, your hands, your fingers, and your fingertips. How do your hands feel? Are they warm or cold. Is there any tingling? Now shine the torch on your neck and face. How does your face feel? Is your face smiling or frowning? Are you clenching your teeth? And now, shine the torch back on the room you are in.’
Loving Kindness Practice
This is a beautiful guided meditation that helps the young ones to build compassion, forgiveness, and self-acceptance.
‘Do you know that you can make send love and happiness to anyone with your smile? Think of the bright, warm sun. It shines for the whole world. You can do that too. Think of someone who was a little sad or needs some kindness. It could be your friend, your teacher, a boy or girl you know, your sister or brother, or someone else. Make a wish for them by saying silently in your mind – may you be happy. Send them a smile and imagine them smiling back at you. Now make a wish for yourself by saying silently in your mind – may I be happy. Give yourself a big smile.’
Guided Meditation – You are Perfect
A guided meditation uses visualization and imagination, something kids are naturally good at. When kids listen to a story, they can build positive attributes like confidence and self-esteem.
‘Imagine that you are going to visit a beautiful park. Listen to the sounds around you. It’s a warm day and you sit under a tree. There are butterflies in all kinds of colors. No two butterflies look the same. Just like no two children look the same. It’s a sign from nature that everyone is unique and different. If all the butterflies and the flowers and all the people looked the same, it would be no fun. And so it is with things that happen in the day. Sometimes nice things happen, sometimes not-so-nice things happen. Whatever might be happening around you, what you need to remember is that you are loved and you are unique and you are perfect. Now place one hand on your heart and think of 3 things that you love about yourself. Take as much time as you need. When you are done, give yourself a big hug and say I love myself.’
Bedtime can be a delightful and peaceful time for children. Sleep is a gift that can come easily to them. As adults, we just need to create the right conditions for relaxation.
Meditations and breathing techniques can give you the support you need. Whether your child wants to listen to a story or simply breathe with you, spending this time together will light up their hearts and give them some much needed rest.