“I can’t fall asleep!” “I’m scared there are ghosts in my room!” “I’m scared I am going to have a nightmare!” Most parents have been victims of all of these complaints and more. Some children outgrow their difficulty falling asleep relatively quickly. Others have a harder time and some even develop a fear of bedtime. Unfortunately one of my children fell into the last category.
Sleep-Deprived and Desperate
Around the time my daughter started elementary school her imagination took on a life of its own. Come nighttime she began ruminating over everything that scared her and having extremely vivid nightmares. Sometimes my husband and I would hear her crying in the wee hours of the morning from her room, other times she would call out for comfort because she was too scared to come out from under her covers, and there were also nights when she would walk into our bedroom and beg to sleep with us.
I am a researcher by nature so of course, I began spending hours on the internet as well as talking with other parents who had been through similar experiences. I was desperate to get any helpful advice. We started getting her into bed earlier to have more time to unwind and read, stuck glow-in-the-dark stickers on her ceiling, sprayed her room with “monster repellant” (a.k.a. hairspray) and gave her gentle massages with lavender and magnesium oil to help calm her. You name it, we probably tried it. Nothing was working. My husband and I were becoming increasingly frustrated and my unfortunate daughter was suffering. She wanted to sleep but also resisted it because of her fear of nightmares.
Finding a Calming Solution
I have always been interested in psychology and love reading articles that explore human behavior and emotions. During this time of turmoil, I stumbled upon an article about weighted blankets. I had no idea what a weighted blanket was and thought it sounded uncomfortable. The more I read, however, the more fascinated I became.
Studies show that these weighted blankets help decrease anxiety, reduce restlessness, and help with sleep. I am significantly overgeneralizing but essentially the blanket applies gentle pressure on your body and produces a feeling similar to that of being embraced. Serotonin, which helps your body regulate sleep, is subsequently released. These chemical reactions produce a calming effect that aids in drifting off. The article went so far as to explain how heavy the blanket should be based on your body weight. For example, the guideline for children is ten percent of their weight plus one or two pounds. I figured I had nothing to lose so I ordered it.
Fast forward a few days and the blanket arrived. When bedtime came around the true test was about to begin. After we finished our daughter’s exhaustive nighttime routine we put the blanket on her (below the shoulders as the directions instructed) and hoped for the best. It worked the first night and every night thereafter!! I kid you not! That blanket changed our lives!
To this day we continue using it and know that within ten minutes our daughter will be asleep. I highly recommend that anyone having problems falling asleep or staying asleep try a weighted blanket. Hopefully, it will be as magical for you as it was for us!
What techniques have you tried in helping your child move forward when they have trouble sleeping? Have you tried a weighted blanket to calm your child so that they can get a good night’s sleep? When kids have trouble sleeping, it’s easy for parents to get off track too. Here are some ways to catch and keep your zzzz’s.
About the Guest Author, Meridith Jacobs
Meridith is a mother of two girls and lives in Potomac, Maryland. Before becoming a SAHM she was a lawyer and career advisor. Meridith likes to spend time with her family and friends, craft, read, and travel during her free time.
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