Can hypnotherapy help children sleep better?
As an adult, who doesn’t love a good night's sleep? But for some, getting our children to bed can be a task and a half! I’m sure as parents there are times when you would enjoy nothing more than snuggling down at 7pm after a busy and hectic day.
Why is sleep so important for children?
This is the time when children’s bodies reprocess and rejuvenate everything they have learned throughout the day. Scientifically, whilst a child is in a deep non-REM sleep, everything repairs and grows to allow important hormones such as the growth hormone (GH) to boost childhood growth.
Children do need a good routine from a very early age and they need to sleep in their own room, in their own bed. You would be surprised at how many parents keep their children in their beds. This really doesn’t help children especially when they get older as it can cause lots of insecurities and problems with children sleeping at a sensible time.
What are the recommended sleeping hours for each age group?
Toddlers (1-2 years)
This age group needs the most sleep. They require 11 to 14 hours of sleep which does include daytime naps. A good nighttime routine is always recommended to instill a healthy pattern of behaviour for sleep. Having a bath or wash at a certain time and getting nightclothes on is a must. Bathtime should always be between 6 pm and 6.30 pm. This then allows a calm down time for a story in bed, as the younger you encourage children to read the more this will help them later in life. Lights out should be 7 pm which means they should wake refreshed at 7 am. This does include a couple of one-hour naps during the day.
Preschool (3-5 Years)
As children begin to explore and their imagination and focus get stronger, they require 10 to 13 hours. Usually, children of this age begin to end their daytime naps which means as the day gets later, they are less tolerant. Again, my advice is to have a routine that they can relate to. They will know that it is bedtime and they allow their mind to rest as they become familiar with this routine.
My suggestions are that bathtime, again, should be between 6 pm and 6.30 pm. Then maybe a little television for 15 minutes then read a book of their choice in bed, then lights out at about 8 pm. They should then rise at about 6 am or 7 am feeling refreshed.
A good night's sleep is essential for everyone, especially for children.
School-age (6 - 13 Years)
As children begin school they are using their brains more and more. Taking information in and processing not only academically but on a social level too. The recommended amount of sleep for this age group is approximately 9-12 hours.
It is still important to keep this routine going but obviously the older they get they probably won’t want you to read a bedtime story! If this is the case, then it’s important they have some time allocated for them to read a book whether it is fiction or non-fiction.
I suggest bedtime is between 8 pm and 9 pm depending on the age within this bracket. As children have a rise in melatonin earlier in the evening, this is the natural time for children to fall asleep. When a child has good sleep hygiene it enables growth, protects the immune function, and stabilises behaviour.
Teen (14-17 years)
I know this age group is a difficult time for both parents and children but keeping a healthy sleep routine is key. Social media plays a massive part in this age group and it is essential all electronic equipment is out of their room to take away the temptation to just check their ‘Snapchat’ account, for example. Teens should try and go to bed between 9 pm and 10 pm. They should create their own bedtime routine which will allow them to become calm and relaxed before bed.
Sleeping for children and adults alike should never be underestimated. It has amazing benefits and purposes which often we dismiss because there is something else better to do - whether it's talking on social media late at night, watching that programme everyone is talking about, or just scrolling through phone messages.
Of course, I am sure these recommendations will raise questions with some parents. I understand that every child is different and requires different habits, routines, and boundaries. Therefore, although my suggestions above are purely advisory, they have been successful with the children I have worked with.
As I have already said, sleep helps to regenerate brains and bodies, it allows all the information we have learned during the day to be processed and memories to be protected. It ensures our immune systems are boosted, protects us from stress and anxiety, and helps concentration, especially when a child is learning - ensuring behavior is stable.
Some children get into a habit of an unhealthy sleep pattern, often waking too early in the morning or not going to bed until very late at night. The good news about this is, if a child has learned a habit such as this, then it can be unlearned using hypnotherapy to help your child gain a healthy and beneficial sleep routine.
Sometimes, children (and adults) experience unpleasant dreams which can be triggered by many circumstances which ultimately cause interrupted sleep which can often be quite distressing for the individual. Hypnotherapy allows your inner mind to not only understand why one has these images, and then reframe and address inner fears.
A good night's sleep is essential for everyone, especially for children. If you'd like to learn more about how hypnotherapy can support you and/or your child's sleep, reach out to me via my profile.