Don’t you sometimes wish there was a switch to turn your brain off and you could instantly fall asleep? Or better yet, a switch on your child or spouse, too? Unfortunately, such switches don’t exist, but there are a few, just as simple alternatives to help you and your child fall asleep faster and have a deeper, more relaxing sleep.
- Meditation has been used for centuries by children and adults alike to create a better harmony between the mind and body. This improved connection has great impacts on all aspects of daily life, including sleep. I have used meditation with one of my own sons, and he absolutely loved it! He actually used to ask me for it. One night when my son was sleeping at his grandfather’s house, he couldn’t fall asleep. He told his grandfather, “I need to meditate.” His grandfather never let me live it down.
- YouTube is also a great source for guided meditations for adults and kids to do individually or together. This is my son’s favorite one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlv6Y1tq1sQ
- MUSE headband: This device aids in your meditation practice, regardless of how much success you’ve had with meditating previously. MUSE uses tiny sensors in the headband and records your brain activity as it plays relaxing music. If the headband detects that your brain is thinking about a million things other than meditation (and let’s face it, we usually are thinking about many other things than the present moment!), it changes the music being played. For example, if you are thinking about where to drive the kids next or what to make for dinner, MUSE will play a more upbeat song or nature sounds such as a thunderstorm. Then, it will gradually turn that thunderstorm into a calming rain as your brain focuses and your racing thoughts begin to subside. You and your child also receive points for being able to calm your brain so that multiple family members can see how many points they get over time! I use the MUSE headband weekly while in the office, and some of my clients use it, too!
- The DreamPad, (Integrated Listening Systems) utilizes music and slight vibrations to induce a more calm and relaxed state. The slight vibration on bone conduction has an effect on the entire body to stimulate sleep and decrease stress. It connects to any iPad or iPhone with a Bluetooth connection, which makes it very convenient. I use it in my sessions during table work in order to help clients reach a calmer state. When my clients achieve this, their minds and bodies are more open to body work in the session. Additionally, menopausal women have found it to be very helpful to decrease stress and anxiety and help with sleep. There are four degrees of thickness to suit everyone’s different needs. One night, I couldn’t fall asleep, and I decided to use the DreamPad. It worked so well that I slept through two alarms! Usually I wake my son up, but that morning he woke me up.
Link for the DreamPad: https://otthrive.com/products/
DreamPad Video: https://dreampadsleep.com/story/
- Delta Sleep System: Various parts of our brain are active depending on the activity we are engaged in. When we are cooking a meal, a different part of the brain is active compared to when we are reading a book or sleeping. The Delta Sleep System is a set of songs or a soundtrack that utilizes pulses, orchestrations, sounds of nature, and more to activate the area of the brain that helps us reach our deepest sleep. Some of the songs can be found on YouTube by searching “Delta Sleep System by Jeffrey Thompson.” If you are interested in trying this method to help you or your child sleep, I recommend purchasing the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad so that the music will still play even once you’ve turned your phone off.Picture of Delta Sleep System: http://www.soundstrue.com/store/delta-sleep-system-2-cd-set-971.html
- Neurofeedback assists in retraining your brain to help you fall asleep. For example, if your child tends to bounce off the walls or has difficulty settling down close to bedtime, neurofeedback can help get your child to settle down for bed. The technology tracks your increased or decreased brainwave activity in order to normalize and regulate sleep patterns. In other words, it identifies how your brain is shifting from a state of arousal to a relaxed state and how it should shift between these two states. Overall, neurofeedback promotes healthier brain wave patterns, which can help your child function in day-to-day activities as well as sleep!
All of the aforementioned ideas are non-invasive and non-pharmacological based. They work to trigger a sleep response by slowing down our thoughts and make it easier to get some shut eye. Additionally, using these ideas can also help you and your child stay asleep longer and achieve a more restful sleep, including decreasing night terrors or restlessness. I invite you to try one of these methods by itself or combine a few to help you achieve your perfect night’s sleep!
- Insomina. (2017). Aboutneurofeedback: Information, Perspective and Advice. Retrieved on June 6, 2017 from http://www.aboutneurofeedback.com/conditions/insomnia/
- Nagendra, R.P., Maruthai, N. & Kutty, B.M. (2012). Meditation and Its Regulatory Role on Sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 3(54).