Hey parents, Dr. Tony here. Sleep is a major challenge for so many kids and parents. A lot of our kids are struggling already with focus, emotions, and sleep, which is the topic of today. I want to really dive into how important sleep strategies are and the five steps you can take to make sure your child is getting enough and full amounts of sleep.
The Importance of SLEEP
Step number one is to understand its importance. You hear it’s like drinking water, eating healthy, and exercising, but sleep is one that gets skipped over so much for our kids and how incredibly important it is for them. The number one thing we see in kids as a result of all the immense amount of stress and emotional challenges that families are facing is exhaustion.
This becomes even more challenging when we are in the middle of winter. The brain needs more recharging when it has to face as much stress as it does on top of not getting much help from sunlight, exercise, and the outdoors.
An exhausted brain is a poorly functioning brain. There are so many things our brains have to do, but when it comes to our kids, going to school academically and cognitively if a brain is tired and doesn’t get enough sleep to reset and recharge, it struggles with memory and focus. When a brain is tired, it stays in what’s called fight or flight which is the emotional or amygdala part of the brain, instead of – the hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex – which are terms that mean processing, organizing, and memory part of the brain. They need this part of the brain to remember to turn homework in, make good decisions, and go to class and that part of the brain is not even turned on if it is tired and stuck in fight or flight.
The other thing that our kids need is socialization. When you are stressed and tired, you’re not very happy or social. We don’t want cranky kids going to school around other cranky kids. So if our kids get enough sleep, the brain can be functioning as best as possible in cognitive, academic, and social-emotional regulation.
Ditch Any and All Tech Before Bed
Number two is to get rid of all technology devices at least 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. You can certainly use Amazon tech – but use it to order a hardcover or paperback book! This is also a great opportunity for you to lead by example and be a good model for your kids. If we’re staring at our phones in bed, blue light on, Netflix on, how can we yell at our kids for being on their devices before they go to bed?
We need to have a hybrid model where we can use the best of technology for learning, entertainment, and excitement, but we don’t forget all that God gave us with books, nature, family time, and board games. Grab one and play it if you need to before bed.
Start that Bedtime Routine Early
Number three, start early. Pretend your teenager is a toddler. If you don’t get your teenagers to sleep, they will be emotional, just like a toddler. If you don’t get your toddler sleep, they’ll be emotional, like a teenager. Funny how that works out!
Both are generally exhausted neurologically when they are being emotional, going back to the first step. If you have kids, you know they don’t actually fall asleep right away anyway. Think about it like this, if you’re going to take off in the middle of a snowstorm to get to a destination that’s normally 30 minutes away, you better take off 60 minutes ahead of time. That’s the same analogy with getting our kids to bed.
Supplements and Oils Can Help with Sleep
Step number four is that you can use supplements and oils. I am not an expert in this world, so if you need help find your local health food store or rockstar mom that is an expert in this area. We’re neurological chiropractic experts, but we know that this stuff works and can help if your child does struggle to fall asleep or get a good night’s sleep. Things like magnesium, essential oils, or a supplement called natural calm that I know my kids will use if they’re having a hard time falling asleep.
Neurologically-Based Chiropractic Adjustments Are Key
Tip number five is this, if you have done all of these things and you feel like you are beating your head against a wall, your child just cannot get good sleep, you see the bags under their eyes at all times, and then you see them live out the challenges that we talked about in the beginning. If they’re struggling cognitively, with focus, concentration, and memory or with their emotional and social regulation. Maybe even their immune system and digestion is starting to falter.
This is all because their charge operating system, their nervous system, is relying upon sleep, but sleep does not happen when we are stuck in sympathetic fight or flight overdrive. In chiropractic, we have a word for that, it’s called subluxation. A subluxation means stress is stuck in the on position.
So if you have tried the first four tips and don’t get you anywhere, get into your local PX Pediatric Chiropractic office and get your child a set of scans. The scans that we use in our offices are called Insight Scans. They will give you exact insights into whether or not their nervous system is stuck in that fight or flight mode, how much, if so, and where. What we find all the time are kids who are in that neurological fight or flight state.
What’s incredible about the neuro-focused chiropractic approach, is that we know once we have those scans, they become our blueprint for exactly where and how we need to get that kiddo reset so that the nervous system can actually calm.
If you really want to learn more about neurology and exactly how chiropractic works with sleep, come to one of our next Perfect Storm workshops. I dive deep into sleep because most kiddos experiencing those challenges struggle with sleep as a direct effect of that stress on their nervous system. If you’re not local, many PX Docs around the country offer Perfect Storm workshops as well.
If you know someone else who needs this, another family whose kids struggle to sleep, please share it. We want this to help as many kids and families as possible.