The Healthy Mind Platter - Sleep Time

by DevorahTockar 01 Apr 2021

Article 8 of 8 Theme Focussing on the Healthy Mind Platter created by Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock

Disclaimer: The original framework of Healthy Mind Platter can be found at https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/ The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the intended views of the creators of the Health Mind Platter; Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock.

Sleep Time.

The first question that we should be asking ourselves when considering our daily activities is “Am I/is my child getting enough sleep?”.

The amount of sleep we are getting will directly impact how we cope throughout the day.

Sleep is a basic need, without which we cannot function properly. We would be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. According to Dawkins “studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity and even depression. (click here to find out more).

Ok, so now that we see that it’s important, how much sleep do we actually need?

Kids aged 5-11 generally need 9-12 hours of sleep each night.

Adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night!

The experts say that a ten minute nap during the day can give you the stamina that you need immediately and give you energy for the rest of the day! Try it sometime, but maybe not when reading your child a book (as I have been known to do).

Sleep is individual and some of us need more than others to thrive (note- we want to thrive, not just survive)! We can do our best to create the environment for our children to develop healthy sleep habits by having a ‘wind down’ bedtime routine.

This may include dimming the lights up to an hour before sleep time, leaving time for reading in bed, or story time with you, putting away all screens at least an hour before sleep. You may want to play some soothing music or a sleep meditation to help your children settle. You can find these on youtube and there are some great apps out there. Check out the further resource list below. You can offer a cup of decaffinated herbal tea or spray the pillow with lavender scent.  

You can create this routine together with your child. Give them choices wherever you can, for example let them choose their pillow or snuggle toy or let them decide if they would like you to read them a book, make up a story or let them choose the song that you sing to them, or soothing music.

If you don’t already have a bedtime routine, then this can be challenging to set up. Be patient with yourselves and your children as you adjust but also try and be persistent.

Children thrive when they have predictability, boundaries and routine.

Before you know it, bedtime will become a pleasure for everyone.  

What it I lie in bed at night and just can’t fall asleep?

Don’t fight it. If you can’t fall asleep because you are feeling anxious or alert- accept that you may just rest in the dark with your eyes closed for a while. Resist the urge to grab your phone or get up out of bed to the brightly lit loungeroom as this will just wake you up further. Mindfulness practice or meditation may be helpful.

There are occasions where we don’t get enough sleep. Maybe there is a family celebration, a late night flight, or an international sports game being aired on T.V. Late nights are ok and flexibility is important, but they should be the exception rather than the rule. When we have a late night or our child doesn’t get adequate sleep we can be prepared for it. The next day we should lower expectations (for ourselves and our kids) and lay low. If this is not possible, then we may need to advocate for our child with the school and give their teacher a heads up.

*a note on sleep time- The first question I ask myself when my child is ‘losing it’ is have they had enough sleep? Followed by, are they hungry? Followed by, do they need exercise? Are they overstimulated? Feeling overwhelmed? If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, I’m going to stand no chance directing them until these basic needs are met.

Sleep Time Challenge

Pick one and let us know how you go 

  • Create a wind down routine for both yourselves and your children and stick to it for a week.

  • Don't take phones/electronics into your bedroom 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep.

  • try go to sleep at the same time each night.

That’s all from me today. Give the challenges a go. They may not be easy at first, but are well worth it as you will see for yourselves. Know that we are in this together and get in touch to take the conversation further.

Chat again soon,

Devorah T

Disclaimer: The original framework of Healthy Mind Platter can be found at https://drdansiegel.com/healthy-mind-platter/ The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the intended views of the creators of the Health Mind Platter; Dr Daniel Siegel and Dr David Rock.

Further Resources:

  • Download the smilingmind app from your Appstore and choose ‘sleep’ from the drop down menu.

Leave a Comment