As per research conducted by University of Houston, children who experience inadequate or disrupted sleep are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders later in life. No wonder that Ayurveda has told this fact centuries before –
Nidrayattam sukham duhkham. – Happiness (pleasure) and depression (pain) are dependent on quality of sleep. Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 21/36.
Adults can undergo lifestyle changes and follow these tips for better sleep and succeed. But in children, it is very difficult to
1. Fix their sleep schedule
2. To improve their sleeping habit and
3. To improve their sleep time.
Here are a few tips to improve sleep in children:
Have a fixed time for sleep:
Putting your child to sleep at the same time at night everyday helps the child to adjust her biological clock to a regular pattern.
Make the room dark:
Dark room means sufficient melatonin hormone secretion means better sleep.
No coffee or tea at least 3 – 4 hours before sleep for the same melatonin reason.
Keep the room neat, devoid of noise.
No TV / Mobile Phones, at least one hour before sleep. The bright screen hurts the eyes and probably the content on the tv or phone might also be hurting your child’s mind.
Bed spread colour: Make sure the bed spread, covers and pillows are light in colour. Light blue, light purple or whatever soothes your mind.
Teddy bear or bugs bunny or whatever the favorite toy is, if the child sleeps along with the toy, it calms the mind and makes the child happy.
Outdoor games are a must for the child to get tired, to build strong body, to improve immunity and also to sleep better.
Adjusting naps: As per Ayurveda, day sleeping is allowed for children and elders. This rule especially is applicable during summer, when the energy drain is greater. Make sure to keep the nap time limited to 45 minutes to 1 hour. This way, the night time sleep hours are not eaten up by the nap hours. Read more about day sleeping
Oil massage – Talk to your Ayurveda doctor regarding the right oil for massage. Usually these oils are useful to induce sleep.
Amla hair oil,
Ksheerabala taila etc.
When to apply hair oil?
At night, one hour before sleep, a few drops of hair oil is applied over scalp, forehead, feet and just one drop over eyelids. This makes the eyes heavy and tired. However, you need to talk to doctor before applying oil over eyelids.
Along with above, you can also use the same oil during day time, 1 hour before hair wash. Oils like Amla oil are good for hair as well.
Body massage with oil:
With oils like Ksheerabala taila, Mahamasha taila, balaswagandhadi taila, Maha Narayana taila, Dhanwantaram tailam etc, at least once a week is very useful.
It relaxes both body and mind, relieves aches and pains and also if you are massaging your child, it improves bonding between you two!
Read related: 11 Mistakes To Avoid While Doing Oil Massage To Baby
No heavy dinner – Since the energy requirement at night is very less, it is better to avoid heavy dinner. Light dinner gives your tummy and body a light experience, inducing natural sleep.
Increase sweet foods, decrease spices:
This rule applies especially when there are sleep problems in the child. As per Ayurveda sleep is directly related with Kapha Dosha. Sweets and oily foods increase Kapha Dosha, hence aid in sleep.
With the same logic, excess spicy foods irritate sense organs and decrease Kapha. Thus, might reduce sleep hours. Consider reducing spicy foods.
Variety of fruits and vegetables:
To nourish the body with all the required vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, etc. A well nourished body gives rise to sharp and active brain.
No junk foods, pizza, burger, soda, coca cola, pepsi, mirinda etc, especially at night. You already know the reason. No?
bed time stories-
Pick non violent ones, with good moral, with happy endings. Try these Panchatantra stories
If the child is having less sleep, then Abhyanga – oil massage, Shirodhara etc therapies are very useful. Before trying any medicines, these therapies should be tried. These help to avoid unnecessary medicine load on the body.
When Ayurvedic medicines are needed?
With all the above measures, if there is still sleep problems, then medicines might be required. Please note that consultation with an Ayurveda doctor is very required before giving any medicine to the child.
Few regularly used Ayurvedic medicines are –
Swarna Bindu Prashana: A naturalway of improving child’s immunity and mental strength. Read more about it here
Brahmi ghrita – This herbal ghee also doubles as a brain tonic.
Maha Kalyanaka ghrita
Aravindasava – Helps to fix the digestion and metabolism issues. Indirectly helps to improve sleep.
Related: Research reference to the University of Houston study that I mentioned in the beginning.