Getting children to sleep
Following on from our last post "Why Do Children Need Sleep?" - this post is on helping children to sleep.
We know sleep is good for all of us, particularly for restoring energy and helping children grow and develop. The question is how do we ensure children get enough sleep?
How do you know your child is getting enough sleep?
If your child wakes easily in the morning: happy, cheerful and full of energy, they have had enough sleep.
If children are hard to wake, are dozy, inattentive, hyperactive and have regular meltdowns they are probably not getting enough sleep.
The good thing is children love predictability and knowing what happens next. It makes them feel safe and secure. This means if your child and family have daily and weekly routines, this helps to establish good sleep patterns. Here are a few suggestions on how to establish good sleep routines with children:
- having a quiet time
- story or reading time
- clean teeth
- being tucked in and kissed goodnight quietly
We recommend that your approach during this routine be quieter and calmer than your usual
interactions and that the general activity around the house be slowed down if possible.
Don't underestimate your children's need for sleep. Here at Therapy Professionals we see some children whose disabilities worsened and others who have been labelled as hyperactive, disobedient, or clumsy when poor sleep has been the significant problem.
We all want our children to thrive and one thing we can do for them is establish good sleeping habits. This will help the child and the household.
Healthline Editorial Team (2017) ’10 tips to get your kids to sleep’, Healthline.
Ministry of Health (2017) ‘Helping children sleep better’.
Macmillan, A, (2015) Sleep tips for kids of all ages’, Webmd.com.
Marcu, Shai, The benefits of a goodnight’s sleep – Sleep to remember. Remember to sleep, TED –Ed.
Harvard Medical School (Jan 2006), Importance of sleep: six reasons not to scrimp on sleep.
American Psychological Association, Why sleep is important.
Leech, Joe (June 2017), ‘Ten reasons why good sleep is important’, Healthline.
Peterson, SM and Werneburg, BL, Sleep: The foundation for healthy habits, Mayo Clinic
Why Sleep is Good for Children?
Our brains are always active, even when we are asleep. While sleeping, the brain clears out its waste, sorts and stores information into our memories and regulates many of our body’s functions.
Sleep is important for everyone, especially children as they are growing and learning at a great rate. Here are some of the reasons why.
Growth and development
While a child sleeps growth hormone is released which is responsible for the development of bone and muscle bulk. Children who get less sleep have less growth hormone.
Memory and therefore learning
While a child sleeps the things they’ve done and learnt during the day get sorted and stored in their long-term memory. If they are sleep-deprived they’ll store 40% less information than those who get enough sleep. Also sleep prepares them for learning, ensuring children can stay awake, concentrate and pay attention.
Emotional, Social and Mental Health
Studies show when sleep deprived we become 60% more emotionally reactive and are physically slower responding to things; much like being drunk. Lack of sleep may explain why some children are hyperactive, miss social cues, have regular “melt downs”, are anxious or appear clumsy and uncoordinated. This may also account for some childhood accidents.
Poor sleep is an issue in most mental health problems - anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Improves our immune system
A child’s immune system keeps developing until adulthood. While sleeping they produce cytokines (small proteins), which help them fight infections. After just one poor night’s sleep the activity of cytokines reduces by 75%, making a child more susceptible to infections such as the common cold.
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Sleep helps regulate the daily fluctuations in the appetite hormones ghrelin (stimulates appetite) and lectin (suppresses appetite). This means children don’t feel the need to eat constantly throughout the day or to store excess calories, so they don’t gain too much weight. If they eat a healthy amount they will sustain their bodies and gain some muscle mass.
Those children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight, although there are other factors that influence weight gain.
The bodies of children who get enough sleep are able to react to insulin levels better. Insulin controls the levels of glucose in the blood. Those who don’t get enough sleep have higher blood sugar levels and are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How much sleep is enough?
Eric J. Olson’s (MD) guidelines recommend the following:
Our next post on sleep will give some tips on how to establish good sleeping patterns for your children.
Fitness as we age
Keeping fit when older is important and takes more effort the older we get. Fifty per cent of those over 75 are sedentary (sit most of the time) and 25% of those over 85 aren’t active at all. Habitual activity makes up a large part of all activity. Housework makes up more than half of an older woman’s activity.
As we get older, fitness is more Important than weight, so relax about your shape and concentrate on fitness.
So how fit are you?
What walking distances can you comfortably do?
Being unable to walk round the block is one indicator you have an increased risk of falling.
Test your fitness with the “Get up and go test” – using a dining chair.
Record how long it takes you to stand; walk three metres (10 feet); turn; walk back; sit down again.
After a month of exercising, test yourself again. A change more than four seconds can indicate a change in the level of mobility eg six seconds slower indicates slower/less confident mobility or six seconds faster indicates stronger/more confident mobility.
Below are some moderate intensity realistic exercise ideas for you to improve your fitness:
You know your voice matters when you’ve lost it!
Is ageing, disability, injury or illness affecting your ability to be heard?
The pitch, pace, pause, tone and volume of your voice comprises about 38% of all your communication.
We challenge you to reflect on the quality of your voice, to take action to improve it whether or not you have lost it.
The quality of your voice affects your communication, so it matters. There is a range of things you can do to improve it, such as
If your problem is significant then we recommend you see a Speech Language Therapist through the public health system or privately.
Some Christchurch people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and Stroke, are learning to use their voice effectively with the Cantabrainers Choir. The Choir was established by Therapy Professionals in 2012. On 1 January 2019 the Cantabrainers Therapeutic Choir Charitable Trust took over management of the Choir.
This is a choir with a difference. Its purpose is not so much to create sweet music but to provide a safe environment in which members can rediscover their voice.
Difficulties with vocal expression are common in neurological conditions. For example, in Parkinson’s disease, the voice can become very quiet, rapid, flat and monotone. Following a stroke, people may experience a complete or partial inability to form spoken words. Even with the ability to plan words and sentences people may lack the muscle coordination, making words sound slurred and incomprehensible.
Singing can be a route to overcome some speaking difficulties. For example, it is well-known people who stutter can often sing quite well; the underlying rhythm provided by music can overcome the difficulties in planning the sequencing of regular speech. For others, problems with speech may be due to memory impairment or word finding difficulty. The use of familiar songs, rhyming and repetition can be a very effective way of helping them become more fluent.
Research shows, after trauma the brain may recover some abilities given effort and the right stimulation. Like getting fit, rewiring the brain (neural plasticity) requires intensive exercise to be done accurately and regularly. Choral singing makes practice enjoyable while the group encourages rehearsing for longer and experimentation. As a result people may, for example, speak louder, for longer and use more words.
The Cantabrainers Choir is run by a Music Therapist and Speech Language Therapist because music and speech share many characteristics: pitch, rhythm, tone, pace and the volume.
The Speech Language Therapist’s expertise is in understanding the relationship between ageing, disability, injury or illness and how it affects your voice.
The Music Therapist’s expertise is in using music and singing to promote positive change with the voice.
While the Music Therapist leads and accompanies the choir, the Speech Language Therapist focuses on individual coaching.
If you have a neurological condition you may like to join the Cantabrainers Choir.
Contact details are:
Phone: 027 327 0291
The 'failosophy' of coping when things go wrong
From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan
3:10 pm on 18 January 2021
2020 may go in the record books as an epic fail for all the challenges it gave us.
Elizabeth Day prefers to think of it as the year we got a lot of opportunities to learn about what to do when life doesn't go to plan. She's a writer and host of the podcast, How To Fail.
Her new book brings together the lessons she's learned not from success but failure. It's called Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong.
Listen to the full interview with Elizabeth Day
Day tells Afternoons she never intended for her book to come out in a year where a global pandemic raged, but the timing is auspicious because there’s a sense that the feeling of control we had over our lives has been taken from us.
“Within that, it feels very disempowering. I, like many people, felt during the first national lockdown here in the UK that I was failing in small ways every single day. I started the lockdown full of good intentions, I was going to learn Italian, I was going to bake sourdough loaves, I was finally going to watch The Wire and I did none of those things.
“I just concentrated on getting through the days, and that’s really what I want to say to people; if you’ve got through the year 2020, that itself is a success, you don’t need to have done anything else.”
Day says failure is both an objective and subjective thing. For instance, by failing a driving test we’ve objectively failed, but internally we might think we’re a failure as a driver, which is subjective.
“The point that I make in failosophy is that not every failure will be easily assimilated, not every failure is easy to learn from. A lot of failures will require a necessary period of mourning.
“Once you come to terms with it, my belief is you don’t have to live in a place of perpetual sadness where you’re reliving the pain that that experience caused you. You can choose to be at peace with that sadness.”
Pain, Day says, is inevitable and there’s nothing we can do to avoid it in our lives. However, suffering is optional.
“We can choose how we respond to it and there’s no doubt that’s a hard thing to do, but there are ways you can do it.”
One positive outcome of failure is learning and eventual success. For instance, we’re likely to sit the driving test again with more knowledge and succeeded in passing. And in relationships, we learn who we want in a partner from failed couplings.
“The necessity of failure makes success not only taste sweeter but feel ultimately more nourishing and you can recognise it when you see it. Success for me is now about fulfilment and authenticity. It’s about being able to be who I truly am in all areas of my life.”
Day says on of the positives of the previous year is that a lot of people got more open and honest about their mental health. She says the ‘leave-your-troubles-at-the-door’ positivity expected of people can make people feel worse about the fact that they already feel down or anxious.
“A lot more people were experiencing what that was like and I’m all about that, I really think people should be enabled to bring their true self into every situation whether that be into an office, into a friendship, or into a relationship.”
Reference: Radio NZ