The Science Behind Sleep: How to Help Kids Sleep

We all know (or should know) that sleep is a vital part of overall health. Getting the proper amount of sleep is even more important for babies and children. We need sleep to focus, allow our bodies to grow and heal, and to generally recover from the day. When we get sleepy, we go to sleep. Yet sometimes, outside circumstances and situations cause us to stay awake, bypassing our resting phase and disrupting sleeping and napping patterns. To be able to help kids get the proper amount of rest and even go to sleep faster, you must first understand the science behind sleep, and how your body chemistry contributes to your sleep mode.

Within the body, we have two responsible for a wake/sleep cycle—serotonin and melatonin. The human body functions accordingly with the circadian rhythm that our bodies are naturally in sync with. This means our bodies are set to perform certain functions during the day and certain functions at night. During the day (in the presence of light), the brain secretes the serotonin chemical that regulates the wake cycle. At night (with the absence of light) the brain secrets the melatonin chemical to prepare our bodies for sleep and sometimes our little ones will fight this. Luckily, there are a few suggestions you may want to consider if you need help with getting your kids in a relaxing environment to promote a good night of sleep.

Daytime Exercise

Allowing your children to get plenty of daytime exercise gives them the opportunity to get plenty of sunlight exposure. This contributes to regulating the circadian rhythm, and to promote increased levels of melatonin. By letting your children enjoy their playtime outside, you are not only helping them stay healthy and strong, but also helping them to stay healthy by contributing to a routine sleep schedule so their little bodies can grow and develop at maximum potential. Getting a lot of exercise can also help deplete their energy levels and make bedtime an easier routine.

Minimize Artificial Light

Since melatonin is best secreted in the presence of darkness, it is in the best interest of both the parent and child that there be as minimal of an amount of artificial light in the bedroom as possible. Artificial light mimics the presence of natural light, and will cause melatonin levels to decrease at night. Be sure no light from a computer, phone, tablet, tv, or any other device is available that could disturb their sleep. If your child doesn’t have any blackout curtains in their bedroom, now would be a great time to get some.

Introduce Relaxing Aromas

The use of essential oils throughout at home and within a child’s bedroom is an excellent natural option to help get your child asleep faster. Essential oils like lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, and cedarwood are great therapeutic aids for calming, relaxing, and promoting a restful night’s sleep.

Parenting isn’t always easy, and there will often be issues and unanswered questions encountered along the way. It’s a big relief in knowing you aren’t alone struggling to get kids to sleep. Just try a few of these tips and even you can’t find the magic remedy right away, time and patience will help you through.


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