Does Your Child Have Trouble Sleeping?

Have you ever wondered whilst lying in bed with your toddlers foot pressed between your shoulder blades or your six year olds fifth attempt to join you at your late night Netflix binge – “Why me?  Why us?  WHY now?”  I often hear mothers and fathers of previously “good” sleepers lamenting over lost sleep and their child’s sudden inability (or refusal) to go to sleep or stay asleep on their own.  

The reasons are varied and often a little more complicated depending on the child and what’s happening at school, home etc. but here are some reasons why previously good sleepers could possibly (suddenly) find it hard to wind down at night – and how you could help them in making the bedtime routine a little less bumpy for everyone involved. 

  1. With the advent of television watching many children are stimulated right up until a few minutes before bedtime.  Flickering lights and engaging storylines from their favourite program only serves to further stimulate neurons and electrical activity in the brain – which does anything buthelp wind them down for some quality shuteye.  Switching the television off at least 30 – 40 minutes before bedtime would be best.  This one habit change can often be a major factor in promoting healthy sleeping habits in our children.   
  2. Another great reason for us to cut screen time for our kids is hormone secretion.  Sitting in front of screens every night is affecting their hormones.  The light impairs the secretion of a very important hormone – melatonin.   And as we all well know melatonin is really important in promoting quality sleep.  It would appear that our modern lives and our hours of watching tv before bedtime in order to “unwind” seems to have backfired.  The light emitted from screens tricks our bodies into believing its still daytime leaving us with that all too familiar feeling of “being tired, but wired”.  Further more, research indicates that it is best to unplug ALL electronic devices that emit light as it has been reported that light pollution (light of any kind – think bright clocks or night lights) also disrupts hormone regulation, which affects sleep, and immune system function.  
  3. Thirdly it’s no surprise that watching TV makes us go to bed later.  If your child needs between 8 and 10 hours to be able to function at their best and they are going to bed an hour later than they should every night – then their sleep debt is never being reduced.  Choosing to read before bed is a far better way to promote a relaxing sleep environment and an earlier bedtime.  
  4. Reconnect: for many children this is a wonderful time to reconnect and talk about their day.  Sharing this down time along with a favourite book can be a great way to wind down and relax for some quality sleep.  
  5. Keep things predictable.  Make sure bedtime is around the same time every night.  Start the routine of winding them down an hour earlier than their actual “lights out” time and keep noise, light and any other stimulation to a minimum.     
  6. Try meditation.  There are so many age appropriate meditation practices available for children.  For many children, childhood is not necessarily a carefree time.  Many children experience many fears: fear of the dark, fear of monsters, fear of abandonment, fear of the future, fear of not being good enough, etc.  Meditation teaches children how to stay in the moment – by training them to focus on one thought, sound, or breath at a time.  Meditation can carry children away from whatever makes them afraid to a place where they have power and control over their lives.
  7. Choose kinesiology.  Kinesiology is an individual-based modality with each client receiving a tailored treatment to suit their specific needs.  Kinesiologists draw upon hundreds of different techniques – all dictated by what the body needs at any given time. Using a bio-feedback system from the clients body the kinesiologist can determine exactly what the body requires to regain equilibrium and bring about homeostasis.  Within this context of sleep, the kinesiologist ‘asks’ the body where the imbalances are and can then determine which technique/s will bring the body back into balance.

Methods of Kinesiology Balancing include:  

  • Tracing and massaging of meridians
  • Gentle holding, rubbing or tapping of acupressure points.
  • Comfortable rubbing of Neurolymphatic points
  • Light holding of Neurovascular points
  • Application or ingestion of Flower Essences and/or other vibrational remedies
  • Nutritional Support and suggestions for the use of tested whole foods to support the body 
  • Emotional diffusion methods

Most clients feel they have a significant shift within 3 – 4 kinesiology sessions.  It is also a good idea to take into consideration:  willingness (as the adult) to make the changes necessary to significantly shift the issue and more often than not, the consideration of external factors, such as the living environment – affecting the outcome.  

Kim is a qualified kinesiologist & EFT practitioner who loves working with people of all ages who want to bring about effective and lasting change.  Finding practical ways to make your life better ~ on a daily basis.  Contact Northern Beaches Integrative Practitioners on 02 8406 0679 or book on line at www.nbip.com.au

Are your Child’s emotions impacting the rest of your family?

Our clinic is seeing an increasing number of children who are having trouble self-regulating their emotions and suffering from different levels of anxiety. Although it is normal for children to express themselves outwardly in a physical manner at times (due in part to the limitations around their vocabulary and undeveloped maturity), it may start to become a problem when the behaviour and/or mood of the child is impacting the rest of the family. Relationships and friendships for these children can become strained and problems can start to spread to other areas of the child’s life including their academic performance, self-esteem and general health and wellbeing.

Behavioural issues and mood disorder in children can manifest in various ways and require a multifaceted approach to treatment. Some of the more obvious signs of behavioural disturbance include:

  • Inability to regulate emotions
  • Angry outbursts
  • Physical episodes (hitting, kicking, throwing)
  • Verbal attacks (screaming, using inappropriate language, verbal insults)
  • Irritability and intolerance to surrounding people and circumstances
  • Desire to control social settings and peers
  • Hyper or over-reactivity of various outcomes

Some of the more subtle signs of behaviour or mood disturbance include:

  • Withdrawing from surrounding people and environment
  • Disconnection or detachment from family and friends
  • Tummy pains
  • Headaches
  • Sadness or low mood
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory

Children often do not have the maturity to cope with overwhelming feelings which can lead to meltdowns and outbursts. Physical outbursts provide a quick method of releasing negative energy for children, albeit taxing on parents and carers. If these outbursts are occurring frequently or becoming increasingly physical, parents or carers should seek some professional advice on how to manage the behaviour and how best to provide support to the child.

Behavioural problems are not always linked to disturbing and aggressive behaviour patterns. Children experiencing behavioural disturbance or mood disorder may have trouble forming and maintaining friendships and “fitting in”. Behaviour imbalance may also manifest as sleep disturbance including fear of being left alone at night, waking during the night, restless sleep and interrupted sleep patterns.

If your child is having trouble regulating their emotions, you may find they often seem down or sad or may be withdrawing from socialising or communicating with those around them. Their teachers may notice a drop in their academic performance or increasing disruptive behaviour in the classroom or day care setting.

Some children complain of ongoing tummy pains or headache which may be a symptom of underlying anxiety or over-stimulation of the sensory organs. Most children are unable to articulate specific feelings and the underlying trigger of these emotions, therefore it is important to look at the whole picture and speak to other adults that can provide further insight into the child’s behaviour. Collating all this information enables a holistic approach to treatment which is more likely to provide long lasting support and facilitate solid improvement to the behaviour and/or mood of the child.

An integral element of a Naturopathic Consultation is identifying what body systems may be contributing to the imbalance being displayed. Multiple systems are usually implicated in behaviour or mood disorder.

Poor detoxification activity can contribute to behavioural issues as the toxic burden on the liver increases and causes tissue damage and inflammation. Elevated levels of toxins can lead to dysregulation of the nervous system and the digestive system which can impact sleep, elimination processes and mood.

Impaired methylation can cause an imbalance to nutrient levels and negatively impact the synthesis of many essential molecules in the body. Nutrients begin to compete with each other in the body causing further imbalance resulting in aggravated behavioural patterns and mood dysfunction.

There are key nutrients required to modulate the nervous system and stabilise behaviour. Fibre is essential to ensure detoxification pathways and elimination processes adequately excrete toxins and waste. Essential fatty acids are important for healthy nervous system function which helps to reduce anxiety and stabilise mood. Zinc is essential for human growth and development and for healthy neurological function. Tryptophan supports brain health and enhances nervous system function to rebalance mood and behaviour disorders. It is important to note that supplements should never be taken, unless prescribed by your healthcare practitioner following a consultation.

A diet rich in whole foods with adequate protein and essential fatty acids provides a healthy start for children experiencing behavioural issues and/or mood disorder. Time away from stimulation including television, computers and other electronics, especially in the evenings, can help to calm the nervous system. Regular exercise, daily sunshine, adequate filtered water and positive parenting provide further support to optimise the function of the nervous system and the digestive system.

If children require further support to dietary and lifestyle modifications, functional testing can be performed to determine any physiological dysfunction. From pathology testing we can observe any specific nutrient deficiencies to enable targeted treatment and tailored support for the child.

 If you are concerned about your child or any children in your care, consider making an appointment with our Naturopath, Belle, who is able to identify pathology, either via consultation or functional testing, and make treatment recommendations accordingly.

A tailored treatment plan may be all your child needs to set them on the right path and bring peace and harmony back into your home and family life. Call Belle our children’s naturopath on 8406 0679 or visit www.nbip.com.au to book an appointment for Mona Vale.