Hello from Sommerfly!
Join us in welcoming Hollie Marron, occupational therapist, our newest Sommerfly blog contributor. She brings you tips this week to help with your Back to School Sleep routine.
Going to Sleep
Active bodies and busy minds at bedtime can make falling asleep challenging for all of us. As we get in sync with the back to school daily rhythm, we can be mindful of sleep routines that help the body and mind downshift for sleep. Here are some simple calming tools that can be used in bed to calm a restless body or an overactive mind. When caregivers and children practice calming tools together, it can be both comforting to the child and nurturing to the relationship!
- 54321 sensory-based mindfulness activity
Quietly looking around the room together, take turns slowly naming out loud 5 different things that you see, “the shiny mirror, the moving curtain, my bright night light, etc.” keep track with your fingers until five fingers are raised. Next, slowly and quietly name 4 different sounds that can be heard, listening for sounds far away and near as well as sounds coming from the body, like the voice and breathing. Third, notice 3 things that can be felt through the skin sense of touch, like the soft fabric of the pajamas, the weight of the blanket, and the warmth or coolness of the air in the room. Now, notice 2 smells, maybe the smell of lotion or shampoo after bathing or the smell of lavender in a scented pillow. Finally, notice 1 part of the body that is still and quiet. This exercise helps shift the attention into the present moment.
- Tense and relax
Releasing physical tension in the muscles can help the body down-shift to a quieter and calmer state. Gently tense and relax muscle groups as you go through the body. You can say out loud, “gently point the toes, hold, and relax, and once more, gently pointed toes, hold, and relax.” Moving up the body muscle groups, squeezing my legs together, holding, and relaxing, scrunching the shoulders up towards the ears, holding, and relaxing, making fists with the hands, holding, and relaxing, closing the eyes shut strongly, holding, and relaxing, and finally, all muscle groups together, holding, and relaxing. Children may like to have imagined themes such as being frozen and melting, or statue and ragdoll, to help feel the difference between tensing and relaxing.
- Belly breathing buddies
Breathing deeply into the belly helps relax the nervous system. Find a comforting stuffed animal that can be placed on the belly. Breathing into the belly while laying down on the back, give the breathing buddy a little ride by breathing into the belly. Breathing out slowly, the breathing buddy moves back down. Emphasizing the slow out breath helps relax the nervous system and makes room for the next in-breath.
These three calming tools can be practiced in sequence (and repeated if needed) as a mini-routine to downshift from the active and busy day into the peace and calm of sleep.
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Hollie Marron, OT