If you’re the parent of a young child, it can seem like your little one has endless amounts of energy. From morning till night all they want to do is go, go, go.
By the time night comes around, you’re ready to drop — but their mind is still racing with thoughts, spilling out of their mouth at 100 miles per hour. It can seem like an impossible task to calm them!
After trying all kinds of things to calm them down for bedtime, you might wonder: What about meditation to help your child sleep? Can kids do it? If so, how?
We know that you’re busy, so we’ve done the legwork of finding you answers.
Yes, some aspects of meditation can be used with even the youngest of children to help them relax, de-stress, and fall asleep. It might look different depending on the age and needs of your particular child.
For babies, meditation and mindfulness may begin through touch. Performing infant massage on a regular basis can be a great chance to:
- bond with your baby
- reduce their stress and crying
- induce sleep
While toddlers may not have the focus necessary for long or self-directed meditations, shorter guided sessions can be included in a bedtime routine to get them used to practicing mindfulness.
Still struggling to believe your little one can calm down long enough to meditate and sleep? Toddlers love to mimic, so performing the actions yourself can help the meditation go a little smoother.
Young children also learn through their senses. Slowing down and asking them to focus on what they smell, hear, and see can help them become more mindful — and this can help them calm their bodies when it’s time to sleep.
As your child grows up and becomes school age, you can implement more structured, independent forms of meditation. You might even try encouraging stillness practices, which can help your child learn to still their body and fall asleep at night.
Wondering how long your child should be meditating each day to help with sleep? While the exact amount of time you’ll want to spend on meditation can vary from child to child, pediatricians do have some general recommendations they commonly make:
- For preschool children: a few minutes per day
- For grade school children: 3 to 10 minutes twice per day
- For teens and adults: 5 to 45 minutes per day or more based on preference
You may opt to use meditation several times per day. It can be done to prepare children for the day, for sleep, or as needed.
You may be wondering if putting time into working on meditation is really worth it. (Is it truly going to help your child with sleep?) Well, rest assured, research shows it definitely can be beneficial.
Researchers believe that meditation can help with sleep in a variety of ways:
- Sleep problems frequently stem from stress and worry. And meditation may help address stress and anxiety, according to a
2014 studyof adults.
- According to a
2012 research review, meditation may also increase melatonin (aka the sleep hormone). It may also increase serotonin, the precursor to melatonin. Getting the right hormones flowing can increase how quickly you fall asleep as well as the length and quality of sleep.
- Meditation may also decrease heart rate, according to a
2019 studyof 26 adults, and blood pressure.
- Parts of the brain that control sleep may be activated by meditation, as suggested by the previously mentioned 2012 review.
The benefits of meditation aren’t just for adults, though. Children are reported to have high stress levels in today’s world.
To help them take necessary breaks and reduce stress, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to share meditation activities with their children and urges teachers to incorporate meditation breaks into their lesson plans.
Mindfulness meditation has been considered in a variety of studies, according to the AAP, as potentially helpful for:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- behavior concerns
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- school performance
While more research is still needed, mindfulness meditation has potential for addressing many concerns.
Given all these known and potential benefits, it should come as no surprise that your child may fall asleep a little quicker and sleep a little more soundly after they meditate.
One of the best things about meditation is that you don’t necessarily need anything to begin. Meditation can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any props or tools.
Looking for a place to start? You can try several types of meditation to help your child sleep. These include:
- If you have a kid who needs to move around, you can use a movement-based form of meditation, like yoga, to calm your child down before your usual bedtime routine.
- You can play kid-friendly guided meditations, available on apps or videos, for your little one. As a reminder, it’s best to avoid screens before bedtime, and the AAP also suggests limiting it in the first years of a child’s life. So, you may want to allow your child to only listen to meditations and not engage with a screen.
- You can guide your child through progressive relaxation after they’re tucked into bed to help them focus on relaxing body parts.
- Mantra meditation — reciting the same phrase or sound — can help limit distracting thoughts and focus children as they head to bed.
- You can also combine different favorite meditation practices together to form a calming routine your child can perform when they feel stressed or need help settling down.
If you decide you do want to try meditation with your child, remember to make it age-appropriate and fun. After all you don’t want it to seem like a form of punishment.
You don’t have to sit on the sidelines either. Get involved yourself — it’ll make it more fun for you both!
In the fast-paced world we live in, it can be beneficial to take a moment to ground and calm ourselves… especially right before bed!
Just as meditation can be useful for adults, if you have a child who struggles to let go of the excitement of the day, meditation might be helpful in getting some extra Zzz’s.
By getting creative and doing it together, you’ll make fun memories that leave a lasting bond with your child (and potentially help you both get more sleep).