Kids and Sleep
I’ve noticed a trend lately and it makes me really sad. I’ve noticed a LOT of parents giving their kids sleep aids regularly to help their child sleep. While there might be some circumstances that it’s necessary, I’m seeing it happen a lot. According to US News, the use of sleep aids has increased by 500% since 2003. That’s not okay.
The use of sleep aids has not been tested for long-term affects either. According to Dr. Owens from Boston’s Children Hospital, “[it] actually suppresses some hormones that regulate puberty. So, the concern is that chronic use […] could alter normal pubertal development,” she says, adding that, at present, there’s no evidence to support this – at least that’s been published. “It’s more of a theoretical concern at this point, but I think that’s [what] tends to be most worrisome.” So basically, we don’t know if it’s actually safe to use for our kids.
“The use […] a drug for the treatment of sleep disorders for children is increasing and this is rather alarming,” Kennaway [from the University of Adelaide in Australia – has studied the drug for over 40 years] said in a statement. He noted in the paper that there’s extensive evidence from animal and human studies that the supplement causes changes in physiological systems, including the reproductive, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems. “The word ‘safe’ is used very freely and loosely with this drug, but there have been no rigorous, long-term safety studies of the use of [sleep aids] to treat […] children and adolescents.”
So let’s not jump on using sleep aids to help our kiddos sleep. It’s important that we first take alternative steps and that we improve sleep hygiene.
Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene:
1. Dinnertime at least 2 hours before bedtime (according to NCBI)
2. Zero Screen time at least an hour before bedtime
3. Regular bedtime routine needs to be established
4. Consistent bedtime and wake time – we use a cool little “Ok to Wake” clock. It lights up to show it’s bedtime and it lights up in the morning when it’s okay to wake. It’s been amazing for keeping my 3 year old in bed.
5. No caffeine or excessive sugar in the afternoon and evening
6. Diffuse a calming essential oil like Lavender, Vetiver, or Roman Chamomile
7. Add a calming oil to your child’s bath or apply the oil topically with some coconut oil or unscented lotion
Have an Appropriate Expectation:
It’s amazing how many mamas come to me asking how they can get their 2 month old or 12 month old to sleep a solid 12 hours every night. This is not an appropriate expectation. While some children sleep this much on their own, others do not. It’s actually safe and healthy for your young children to wake through the night – it helps protect them from SIDS and it helps to keep your milk supply hearty if you are breastfeeding. My dad gave me some really good advice when I first had my daughter – don’t expect to sleep for the first two years. It freaked me out at first but it’s been great advice. My kids don’t sleep well. They wake every few hours for the first two years – no matter what “sleep solution” I use. It seems to be luck of the draw whether you have a sleeper or a waker – both are healthy kids – just different.
I’m not against modern medicine, it’s life saving. But let’s try all the natural solutions that we can FIRST and have the right expectations.
Essential Oil Blends for Sleep:
Apply along your spine, bottoms of your feet, back of neck, and/or wrist before going to bed.
Note: Not all essential oils are created equally. “100% pure” does not mean you are getting a pure or safe essential oil. The FDA does not do a great job regulating the industry so we must be responsible consumers and research the companies we are buying our essential oils from. I did a lot of research and landed on doTERRA. They have the highest safety and purity standard on the market called Certified Pure Tested Grade essential oils. They are the only brand I endorse.
- Liquid Sleep: Mix in a 5 mL roller bottle: Fractionated coconut oil, 15 drops Lavender, 10 drops Vetiver, 5 drops Frankincense, 5 drops Wild Orange, 8 drops Roman Chamomile
- Peaceful Child Blend: Mix in a 10 mL roller bottle: Fractionated coconut oil, 30 drops Vetiver, 10 drops Ylang Ylang, 6 drops Frankincense, 5 drops Clary Sage, 3 drops Marjoram, 10 drops Lavender
- Sleep Tight: Mix in a 10 mL roller bottle: FCO, 25 drops Serenity, 20 drops Ylang Ylang, 15 drops Vetiver, 15 drops Marjoram
- Sleepy Baby: Mix in a 5mL roller bottle: FCO, 6 drops Roman Chamomile, 10 drops Balance, 5 drops Lavender
Diffuser Blends to Help Your Child Sleep:
- Sweet Dreams: 4 drops Lavender, 2 drops Cedarwood, 2 drops Wild Orange, 1 drop Ylang Ylang
- Sleepy Thyme: 1 drop Thyme, 1 drop Marjoram
- Sweet Slumber: 3 drops Bergamot, 2 drops Cedarwood, 1 drop Marjoram
- Sleep In: 3 drops Serenity, 3 drops Vetiver
I recommend only one brand of essential oils. Please do not use these tips if you are going to go out and buy the cheapest brands that you can find. When it comes to essential oils, you get what you pay for. There’s hardly any regulation on the essential oil market so you have to do your due diligence when purchasing oils. After research, I fell on doTERRA. DoTERRA holds themself to the highest purity and safety standards on the market -plus they hold themselves to fair trade and sustainability practices.
5 Things to Know about using Melatonin: