Here are a few more ideas to help kids get to sleep:
In his book, The Mozart Effect, Don Campbell explains how different kinds of music can actually lower blood pressure, deepen or slow breathing patterns, calm stress, and change brain waves from beta, wide awake, to an alpha or relaxed pattern. He suggests slower music such as Baroque (Bach, Vivaldi), Classical (Mozart), or even New Age (Enya). He reports that in some hospitals patients are prescribed music along with medications and sometimes they have been able to reduce their sedatives or anesthetic drugs considerably. One doctor stated that half an hour of Mozart produced the same effect as Valium.
I think Vivaldi would be better for kids than Valium (as tempting as that might be sometimes) and, according to Don Campbell, this kind of music has the additional effect of making them more creative and even more intelligent, especially in math and language. Wow! So put on some of the slower Mozart pieces and let him lull your child to sleep.
The problem in a large family is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. Some of our children liked and used our Mozart tapes and others just wanted quiet. If they were roommates they had to work out a compromise, but that's another blog.
This means the use of essential oils from plants and flowers for certain therapeutic effects. Some oils, such as peppermint or the citrus oils of orange or grapefruit, will energize you and wake you up. I read about an experiment in Japan where peppermint oil was diffused throughout an office setting and productivity went up an appreciable amount while absenteeism went down.
On the other hand, oils such as lavender have a slight sedative effect. Sometimes I put a drop on the cold light bulb in the lamp next to my bed, then turn on the lamp and start to read. The warmth of the lighted bulb soon wafts the scent of lavender through the room and before I know it, I’m so sleepy I can’t keep my eyes open and have to close the book.
You can buy these oils online or at health food stores and other places where alternative medicines are sold. It’s important to get the actual essential oils, which will cost more, and not just something that smells like it or you won’t get the same result. To use these oils, you can do like I do with the light bulb, or put a few drops (it doesn’t take much) into an electric diffuser.
Here is a link to a slide show and video that demonstrate a baby massage: http://www.babycenter.com/slideshow-baby-massage I recommend using a lavender-scented baby lotion while doing this. You can adapt the technique to older children as well. As I’ve mentioned before, touch is a comforting way to show love and touch combined with the relaxing effect of massage could be helpful.
I also make a special “Sleepy Time Salve” that helps me a lot and would be beneficial for anyone who has a hard time getting to or staying asleep. Here is the recipe (all these items can be obtained through Amazon, other online sources or health food stores):
In a glass measuring cup put 1/2 cup of coconut oil, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and 2 Tbsp. of beeswax pastilles. Place in hot water in a saucepan and melt over medium to low heat until everything is melted, about 15-20 min. Remove from saucepan and add the following essential oils: 25 drops of lavender, 25 drops of orange, 25 drops of cedarwood, 25 drops of peppermint, and 10 drops of cinnamon. Pour into container and keep stirring till cool. This will take a while but don’t stop until the mixture begins to look a little opaque and thickens.
At night, about half an hour before bedtime, take a small amount, no more than half a teaspoon or less, rub it all over the feet, then put on socks. The oil will absorb into the skin very quickly, especially in the feet, then you can either take off the socks (which I do) or leave them on all night.
We all need a good night’s sleep, both parents and children, and I hope you find these suggestions helpful to you and your family. Whether you use one or a combination of these techniques, make it a part of the bedtime routine. It will give you personal time with your children, each one individually, and also clue them in that it’s time to relax. As kids get older, they may continue it by themselves because it has become the signal to go to sleep.