Kids who can’t sleep. What to do?
I've just got finished a Zoom Meeting for one of my gorgeous patients who lives in country New South Wales, Australia - way out west. As well as being blown away that I can share with Margot's Mum, occupational therapist, speechie, kindy teacher and support co-ordinator in real time, as we discuss her achievements and future goals for 2019, I love that the discussion about quality sleep was addressed.
So we know that children with certain genetic conditions - especially those with very pale skin - have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. We also know that other things make settling for sleep harder. Melatonin is a natural hormone that moderates our wake- sleep cycles and is at its highest levels at night - helping us to become drowsy and fall, plus stay, asleep. The problem is that many of the activities we currently do affect our Melatonin levels: so here are some quick tips to help max yours and your child's Melatonin levels and make for a better night's sleep!
1. Not surprisingly - avoid screen time prior to bed and if you absolutely can't, then make sure your device is set to a dim/ non blue light setting. Having your device as your alarm clock (on your bedside table) is not ideal.Try to have it in another room (for children) or out of sight for you.
2. Avoid caffeine prior to bed
3. Avoid exercise for 1-2 hours prior to bed
4. Most importantly, have your breakfast out in the sun. Squinty-eyed sun for 20 minutes in the morning helps produce Melatonin. Wearing a strappy singlet or going shirtless with no hat or sunscreen early in the morning is ideal. Of course then slap on the hat, slip on the shirt and slop on the sunscreen as the day warms.
And if you are visiting a family member in hospital or working in an office all day, make sure you get out in the sun to help produce some Melatonin. Prolonged exposure to artificial light is not a friend to good sleep. Sweet dreams people.