We all know about the importance of a healthy diet and getting enough exercise but getting enough sleep is equally important, if not more so, to our physical and mental health. Sleep is especially important for children; studies have shown that children who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, problems with concentration and learning and even depression.
So how do we support our children (and ourselves) to get a good night’s sleep? Having a consistent bedtime routine that ideally starts at the same time each night is key. As evening falls, start to ‘wind down’ the household, closing the curtains, dimming the lights, and slowing down the pace of activity. Think of the last hour before bed as the ‘golden hour’ – there should be no screens/electronic devices used in this time as the blue light they emit can stop the body producing melatonin which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Instead, introduce some quiet, calming activities, ideally ones that can be done together as a family to help fill your child’s love tank before going to sleep.
There are lots of elements in the Mini Me Yoga programme that are ideal to include in the golden hour, from ‘sending love’ to quietly colouring in mandalas (any hand-eye coordination activity is brilliant for calming the mind). For young children, I like to recommend using trampoline breath with their favourite soft toy and rocking it to sleep on their tummy. For older children, a guided visualisation or meditation technique like those taught in our meditation workshop, can really help calm busy brains.
Then, of course, there are our yoga poses. Whilst energetic exercise- like bouncing on a trampoline- is best done earlier in the evening as the adrenaline produced act as a stimulant, gentle exercise like yoga is ideal as part of a wind down routine. You might want to just choose one or two poses or you can put together your own bedtime flow like the one below:
Mountain pose – take some deep breaths in and out. Raise your arms up into giraffe pose and say goodnight to the sun. Bring your hands back to heart centre and come into tree pose. Focus on breath and balance. After a few breaths change sides. Fold forward from your waist into tickle toes – hold your elbows, let your head become heavy and gently sway from side to side. Roll slowly back up and come down into dog pose. Stay here for a few breaths then drop your knees and come into crystal pose. Relax and take some deep breaths in and out. Sleep well everyone!
About Justine Merton-Scott
I am the Mini Me Yoga Ambassador for Yorkshire and offer workshops to schools and nurseries across Yorkshire and my native North-East. I am currently also training as a Holistic Sleep Coach and hope to be offering this service very soon. I run monthly family yoga sessions and Mini Me Yoga workshops for adults in Oakwood, Leeds.