How to help your child improve their sleep with meditation and a bedtime routine

Children that get adequate sleep and are well-rested have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall physical and mental health.
6 Minutes
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Updated
Published
May 2, 2022

Sleep is crucial for everyone, but especially for children who are developing mentally and physically. For children of all ages, sleep is essential for restoration, strengthening the immune system, muscle growth, and regulating hormones. Children that get adequate sleep and are well-rested have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall physical and mental health.

Sleep needs vary for each child, but generally there are guidelines regarding how much sleep a child should be getting each night. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 10-13 hours of sleep for children ages 3-5, 9-12 hours for children ages 6-12, and 8-10 hours for teenagers ages 13-18.

Some children have difficulty sleeping—they struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. During the pandemic, the number of children with sleep disturbances doubled due to changes in bedtime routines, the inability to be active consistently, remote learning, and lack of in-person social activities. Even as children start to return to a “new normal” many are still struggling with getting consistent and restful sleep.

You can help your child improve their sleep by helping them practice good sleep habits.

Tips for better rest: incorporating meditation

Many families incorporate meditation into their sleep routine. Meditation can help children and teens (and adults!) calm their mind, so it’s easier to fall and stay asleep. At bedtime, children want to feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. Meditation combines relaxation and visualization techniques to encourage your child or teen is able to calm and de-stress before bedtime.

Meditation before bed can lead to deeper sleep, ensuring your child is well-rested and prepared for the activities of daily life. There are many types of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, guided meditation and body scan meditation.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present. It is done by increasing awareness of breathing and body.

You can also help your child follow these steps for a 3-5 minute meditation (overtime, once they are comfortable with meditation, they can increase the time to 15 minutes):

  1. Find a quiet area. Sit or lie down, whichever is most comfortable. At bedtime, lying down is recommended.
  2. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Take long, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing. You can even put your hand on your belly to feel your breath.
  3. If a thought pops into your head, try to let it go by focusing on your breathing instead.

Remind your child to be patient, as meditation is a practice that takes time. It is hard to calm the mind!

Guided meditation

Guided meditation is when the child is led through each step of the meditation by another person. The guide might instruct the child to breathe a certain way, or visualize images or sounds. There are many resources that offer recorded guided meditations. There are meditation podcasts, mobile applications, websites, and youtube channels.

Some of our favorite guided meditation resources for kids:

Body scan meditation

During body scan meditation, the child focuses on each part of their body. The goal is to increase awareness of physical sensations, such as tension. The act of focusing helps promote relaxation, which can help the child sleep.

You can help your child do body scan meditation by following these steps:

  1. Remove all distractions and lie down in a comfortable position
  2. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Notice the weight of your limbs and head.
  3. Focus on your face, try to soften your jaw, eyes, and facial muscles. Remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  4. Move to your neck and shoulders, try to relax them.
  5. Continue down your body, moving all the way to your fingers and toes. Notice how each part feels.
Sleep is essential for a child's growth and development
Children that get adequate sleep and are well-rested have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall physical and mental health.

Additional tips for better rest

Meditation is one activity that can be incorporated into your child’s bedtime routine, a set of activities that are carried out before bed every night. Children benefit from routines at bedtime, as they help them transition from the business and stress of the day to a state of relaxation and calm, ready for sleep. Studies have shown that children who follow a bedtime routine are more likely to go to sleep earlier, fall asleep faster, and sleep longer. They are also less likely to wake up during the night.

An ideal bedtime routine begins before your child climbs under the covers and turns off the light. Depending on your kid's age, their bedtime routine will be different. Older children may be able to complete the routine themselves.

Typical bedtime activities include:

  • Brushing teeth and using the bathroom
  • Taking a warm bath or shower
  • Reading a book individually or with a parent
  • Listening to calm music or a podcast
  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Singing lullabies (younger children)
Reading a book with your child is an excellent way to wind-down. Older children and teenagers may benefit from reading by themselves before bed.

Bedtime routine example: Molly, age 7, 1st grade

Molly needs to get up at 7:45 to get ready for school. She does her best when she gets 11 hours of sleep.

  • At 7:45pm, an hour before bedtime, Molly turns off her tablet
  • Molly, with the help of her parent, takes a bath and brushes her teeth
  • Molly’s parents help her find a 10 minute guided meditation on their favorite mindfulness app
  • At 8:45, she goes to bed with a reminder from her parents. Her room is dark (with a night light), and free of distractions and sounds.
Bedtime routine example: Alex, age 12, 7th grade

Alex needs to get up at 7:05 am to get ready for school. He does best when he gets 10 hours of sleep.

  • At 8:00 pm, an hour before bedtime, Alex turns off the tv
  • He takes a bath and brushes his teeth
  • He reads a book quietly in his room
  • At 9:00pm, he goes to bed, with a reminder from his parents. His room is quiet, dark, and free of distractions like his tablet.
  • Alex wakes up at 7:05, rested and ready for a successful day at school!
Bedtime routine example: Cleo, age 17, 12th grade

Cleo needs to get up at 6:45 to go get ready for school. She does her best when she gets 8 hours of sleep.

  • At 9:00pm, an hour and 45 minutes before bedtime, Cleo puts away her homework
  • From 9:00 to 9:45, she enjoys her favorite tv show and snapchats with her friends
  • At 9:45, an hour before bedtime, she puts all electronics away, and puts her phone on silent
  • She takes a warm shower and brushes her teeth
  • She goes into her room and does a 20 minute meditation using an application on her phone
  • She turns off the lights and goes to sleep
  • Cleo wakes up at 6:45am, rested and ready for a successful day at school

Healthy sleepers = healthier learners

When your child has a regular sleep routine they are more equipped to cope with the challenges and stresses they experience. An enforced bedtime and consistent routine will help your child sleep more, be more alert during the day, and will improve their overall health.

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Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel’s diverse, culturally competent providers specialize in the health challenges of children and teens and partner with parents and school staff to make the best care decisions for students. Hazel is committed to improving health care equity and is available regardless of family income, geography, insurance status, or ability to pay. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care, because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at hazel.co.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel's diverse, culturally competent providers work with parents and school staff to transform children's access to health care, because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at hazel.co.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel serves nearly 2 million students across 100 school districts, helping to reduce chronic absenteeism and unfinished learning by addressing gaps in health care access. As an extension of the school health team, Hazel helps schools immediately address student physical and mental health care needs. Hazel’s mission is to transform children’s access to health care because when students feel better, they learn better.

Learn more at Hazel.co/hazel-in-schools.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Hazel helps school districts address chronic absenteeism, unfinished learning, and school enrollment, by addressing gaps in health care access.

Learn more at Hazel.co/hazel-in-schools.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts and families to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. Instead of waiting for an appointment with a doctor or therapist, children can see a Hazel provider for a telehealth visit, at no cost to families. With guardian permission, Hazel’s telehealth platform allows children to connect with a health care provider within minutes, or a therapist within days of referral. Hazel’s providers can help with everything from allergies and stomach aches to anxiety and depression. With Hazel, children can get the care they need when they need it.

Learn more at Hazel.co/how-hazel-works.

About Hazel

Hazel Health, the leader in school-based telehealth, partners with school districts and families to provide mental and physical health services to K-12 students where they are–at school or home. At no cost, and regardless of insurance status, Hazel’s providers can help with everything from allergies and stomach aches to anxiety and depression. With Hazel, children can get the care they need when they need it.

Learn more at Hazel.co/how-hazel-works.

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