Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Help Support Your Kids' Healthy Sleep

It's almost August ... can you believe it? Before we know it, it will be September and our kids will be heading back to school.

During summer, it can be difficult to keep kids on a regular sleep schedule; we want them to play and have fun while they can! But research shows school-aged kids needs about 9-12 hours of sleep[1] at night, which is especially important during the school year to support intellectual and emotional health.

Now is a great time to start your kids back on a healthy sleep schedule so that by the time school rolls around, they'll be rested and ready to head back. So, how do you help support your kids' healthy sleep schedule? Here are some suggestions[2]:
  • Make a special bedtime.
  • Pick a bedtime that feels natural for your child. Pay attention to when they naturally "wind down" or get physically tired, which is when they should be going to bed.
  • Keep a regular routine and make it simple.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages like hot chocolate and cola, which can keep your kids from falling asleep.
You also might want to try using lavender Lavandula angustifolia essential oil. Many kids (and adults!) find a few drops on the pillowcase soothing and relaxing. You can even lead your kids through some simple deep breathing exercises to help them relax and inhale the lavender aromatherapy essential oil.

A 2008 study in Early Human Development [3] also showed that the aroma of lavender bath oil may have effective relaxing and sleep-inducing properties. When used with mothers and infants, the data showed increased relaxation of mothers and infants.

Have you tried lavender with your kids? We'd love to hear more about your experience using lavender for sleep and relaxation. Please post your comments to share (and if you have other suggestions for helping your kids to get healthy sleep, please post those too!).

[1] http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/sleep.htm
[2] http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/sleep.htm
[3] Field T, Field T, Cullen C, Largie S, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn.
Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants. Early Hum Dev. 2008 Jun;84(6):399-401. Epub 2007 Nov 28. Accessed 7/27/10: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18053656

* Note the information within this article is for information purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe, or cure. When using essential oils, it is best to consult with a Registered Aromatherapist or your primary care physician for questions.