If there’s nothing more adorable than a sleeping child, why is it that getting them there is so exhausting? If you’re one of the lucky parents whose kids are out like a light the minute they hit the pillow – kudos to you … if not, here’s our 5 top tips for helping to calm your kids for sleep, hopefully making that bedtime routine run a little smoother.
Steer clear of the sugar hit!
While dessert is often a sweet treat kids love after dinner, avoiding a sugar hit just before bed is important to help kids wind down. Make sure dinner is around 2 hours before bedtime and contains good amounts of protein to help keep them full. If your kids like a sweet treat or a snack before bedtime, go for low or no sugar options like small amounts of low GI fruit such as peaches, cherries, pears or oranges or consider a home-made snack from coconut milk, or healthy options of a sugar-free dessert or ice cream (that don’t replace the sugar with artificial sweeteners!)
Lighting is key
Light is an amazing thing and has a profound effect on sleep. For centuries sunrise and sunset influenced the time people went to sleep and the time they woke up. In the modern age with the introduction of artificial light, these signals have become confused and the 24-hour day-night cycle somewhat disordered. Introduce another type of light, blue light, from devices such as TVs, iPads and computers and is it any wonder the brain doesn’t know what time it is! Go back to basics with light – it takes discipline, but limit or remove blue light devices at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Also, change your child’s bedroom lighting to be more ambient, consider using warm white rather than bright white or LED globes, and ensure when it’s bedtime the room contains just enough light for your child to feel comfortable and secure.
Did you know milk contains melatonin?
There’s a reason our grandmother’s encouraged us to drink warm milk before bed. Cow’s milk, and even breastmilk, naturally contain melatonin - the hormone in our body that controls sleep. Interestingly, breastmilk contains more melatonin at night, with a fascinating study even showing cows that were milked at night during the winter months when there was less sunlight produced milk with the highest concentration of melatonin. While you can’t choose the melatonin content of the milk you purchase at the supermarket, it’s an interesting fact, nonetheless.
If your child does not have a milk allergy and is not lactose intolerant, a small amount of milk at bedtime may be helpful. Herbs of Gold Children’s Calm Care contains the milk protein hydrolysate Lactium®. Lactium contains very little lactose (<0.5%) so is suitable for children who don’t tolerate large amounts of lactose.
Have a consistent bedtime routine
To train the brain to go to sleep, create a consistent, calming bedtime routine that suits your child’s personal preferences. Bedtime routines can vary, but often include calming activities like taking a warm bath or reading a story. For older kids, journaling to encourage them to put any racing thoughts on paper or even child-friendly meditation can be very beneficial. The internet has some great information on this (just don’t google it at bedtime 😉).
Herbs to soothe and calm
Herbs can also be a great way to soothe and calm nerves and reduce excess nervous energy in children. Herbs of Gold Children’s Calm Care contains Chamomile, traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to soothe and calm nerves, while also traditionally used for relieving restlessness and excess nervous energy in children. In addition to Lactium® and Chamomile, this formula also contains magnesium, useful for supporting nervous system health in children.
 Romanini, E.B., Volpato, A.M., Sifuentes dos Santos, J., Walter de Santana, E., Hoch, C., De Souza, B., & Ludovico, A. (2019). Melatonin concentration in cow’s milk and sources of its variation. Journal of Applied Animal Research, 47(1), 140-145.