Poses for a Good Night’s Sleep

In our busy world, children often come home from a long day of school and after-school activities, gobble down dinner and plow through homework, jump in the bath and head off to bed, with parents hoping they are going to get enough sleep to be able to do it all over again.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says:

· Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.

With crazy schedules, it is a growing concern that kids are not getting enough sleep.

In another study this is what was found:

“Anne G. Wheaton, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2015 national, state, and large urban school district Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBSs)…The researchers found that the prevalence of short sleep duration was 57.8 percent among middle school students in nine states that conducted the middle school YRBS. In the national YRBS, the prevalence of short sleep duration was 72.7 percent among high school students.” https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-01-cdc-school-children.html

Even on the occasions that our kiddos get into bed at a reasonable time, it is imperative that once there, they are ready to be able to get to sleep. Like adults, many kids report being restless or unable to quiet their minds.

There are many tools that can help, but yoga, especially, can act to calm down the nervous system so that the mind and body are ready to relax.

My top three favorite pose/movement ideas are moon salutationsseated forward bends, and legs up the wall. Give these a try this week and notice how it makes your child feel. You might even have them journal or draw about their experience each night! Of course, these poses have positive effects on grown ups, too, so try these together if you can.

Moon Salutations

This is a series of poses that can help to work off excess energy that has built up throughout the day. It is a cooling series of poses designed to slow the body down and help you relax. This can be great do before legs up the wall. There is no right number of times to repeat the sequence, so you can decide how many you might need and then stop when it feels right. This also helps children develop the ability to listen to their bodies and advocate for what they need.

Kids may want to start this sequence fast if they feel like they have a lot of energy, which is great, but encourage them to move slower and slower with each repetition.

As always, if you do a little research, you will find many variations called “moon salutations”. Most include standing half-moon, balancing half-moon or crescent moon. If the version here doesn’t fit with your children’s ages, adjust however you like to make it a comfortable sequence for them.

a diagram showing the steps of a yoga flow

Seated Forward Bends

Forward bends of any kind are very calming to the nervous system. These can be done before legs up the wall, to continue the process of calming the nervous system or as a stand along pose.

For kids, I like to use the analogy of waves on the ocean. The waves might start out fast when the wind is strong, but as the wind calms down, the waves get smaller and smaller and finally the ocean might look still and calm like a mirror. Remember to allow your knees to bend for forward folds. This way, your whole body gets a stretch — not just your hamstrings. And it’s much safer for your back.

Legs Up the Wall

mother and daughter reading a book together laying on the floor in a yoga pose called 'legs up the wall'

This is a great pose to stretch out the low back after a long day of sitting in school, in the car, or at the computer. It will also allow blood to flow from the legs back to the core of the body and let your heart slow down and rest. If your child’s sleep cycle is off, it can also help to restore a natural rhythm. This pose is also very calming for the nervous system, allowing it to move to the “rest and digest” phase, allowing the mind to calm.

Try doing this pose with your kiddo while reading your favorite bedtime story. A great way to spend quality time together and also get the benefits of legs up the wall!

Each of these can be used alone or in the order they are listed. This makes a nice 10 minute bed time flow to ease the way to a restful night’s sleep.

Good night and sleep tight till the morning light!

a closeup of a young boy sleeping wrapped snugly in a cover

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

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