“Can my child sleep in a weighted vest?” This type of question often arises when parents are looking for sleep solutions for their children. Weight and pressure are fantastic calmers and can be used as part of a sleep routine but do not wrap or constrict a child while sleeping. If your child is craving weight and pressure and you are looking for a good night’s rest, try these helpful ideas that do not impose danger — and check out our popular Bedtime Kit.
Routine. A good sleep routine is critical. Be sure your routine is consistent and this is particularly important for children with Autism, ADHD or Executive Functioning Disorder. A flexible routine means “it’s not that important.” So create a bedtime routine that works for you and your child, and stick to it.
Warm it Up. Warm milk and a warm shower or bath are great relaxers before bed. The increased circulation helps to calm and induce fatigue. If drinking right before bed causes bed-wetting, then be sure there’s enough time in-between or forgo the milk for the warm bath. You can also warm putty for some soothing heavy handwork before bedtime, or warm a weighted pad.
Movement. Be sure your child is getting plenty of movement and exercise during the day, especially if they are getting significant screen time. Turning off the computer, television, video game, phone and tablet at least an hour before bed can make a difference in sleepiness. Also schedule movement after screen time to help reduce “screen brain” which can interfere with sleep patterns.
Read. Reading a printed book alone or together (not a Kindle or e-reader) can be relaxing and calm the mind. A book can also open up dialogue and increase the lines of communication, reducing anxiety before bed. Use weighted or pressure items before bedtime to relax the sensory system.
Aromatherapy. Lavender, sage and vevitar are just a few examples of calming scents that can be used with a room diffuser to encourage sleep. You can also use an inhaler or place a few drops of aromatherapy on a pillow to ease into sleep.
Hit the Floor. If your child is still having trouble, make a bed on the floor. A firm mat combined with an egg crate in the corner of the room can create a grounding effect for added security, relaxing the muscles as well.
Turn off the Lights. This goes without saying, but take a look around your child’s room with the lights off. How bright is it? Are there clocks and other devices plugged in that create light? Even a soft glow can make it difficult to sleep. Our bodies produce natural melatonin when it’s dark and lights can disrupt the production. If your child insists on a night-light, make sure it is a dark color and away from the bed.
Try implementing these suggestions one at a time until you find what works best for your child, teen or adult. You may just find yourself sleeping better too!