Falling asleep comes naturally to many of us, but for many more it is not an easy task. Sleeping is pretty easy for me, but that could be because at the end of the day, I’m quite exhausted from a work from home in addition to the whole house during work tasks that manage to overwhelm my stay at home as a work from home. mother of 3 energetic children. But that’s another article for another day. Right now, this article is about how to make your fussy child sleep better.
So, as I was saying, I fall asleep a few seconds after my head hits the pillow. My son who is 7 years old is the same. As soon as you are in a horizontal position, you are asleep. and he continues to sleep for the rest of the night and has to be awakened in the morning from his deep sleep. He wakes up fresh as an apple ready to take over the world and he does it.
My oldest daughter, who is around 12 years old, on the other hand, has great trouble falling asleep. She might be dead tired and not slept all day, but she still can’t fall asleep without a great battle. Sometimes she falls asleep easily, but other times she keeps going round and round. It was one of those days that I found her wide awake when I went to check on her.
He had worked hard to finish his homework after coming home from basketball practice. I had assumed that because she had had such a long day, she would be sound asleep by the time I checked on her. But she said that even though she really wanted to sleep and was very tired, she couldn’t get to sleep. She said that she was closing her eyes, but that they seemed not to want to stay closed and that she had spent the half hour in bed tossing and turning and becoming even more tired.
“I really want to sleep mom and I’m so tired, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to fall asleep …” she lamented.
I told him the time, saying it was time to sleep. He does not like to sleep and tries to keep the dream away as much as possible. Naps are definitely a no-no for her and no matter how tired she is, she pushes those extra minutes that turn into hours.
“Well, you have exhausted your body too much by not sleeping on time. As such, your body is completely stressed …”
“I’m not stressed …” she complained.
I explained that stress doesn’t have to be mental or emotional. It could also be physical.
“When your body gets too tired, that means you are stressed too. When your body gets stressed, it releases a hormone called cortisol into the bloodstream.”
I checked her to make sure my lecture didn’t put her to sleep. (yes, that’s a good technique to make your kids fall asleep too 😉 She was still wide awake.
“Cortisol is a hormone that the body generates when it senses danger. Stress makes the body think it is in danger, and once the hormone is released, the whole body and mind are alerted to standby. It is as if you are being attacked by a lion and as such, all parts of your body and mind are ready to start running as fast as you can to get out of the way of the big cat. Your body does not want you to sleep in a time like that. So he makes sure you don’t fall asleep. That’s what’s happening to you right now! “
She was looking at me with wide eyes. She is a very smart girl and as such she seemed to understand what I was saying.
“Then what do I do?” she asked.
“You need to relax and tell your body that there is no lion lurking anywhere and that it is safe for you to fall asleep.”
“How can I do that?” She continued.
I don’t know where or how it came to me, but the words of my yoga instructor came to mind. In our Vinayasa Yoga class we are encouraged to disconnect our minds from day-to-day things. We are asked to accomplish this very difficult task by concentrating on our breathing following the ujjayi breathing technique. This is a form of breathing in which we breathe through the nose. Most of you might be laughing, thinking that’s where we normally breathe from. Well, if you pay attention to the way you breathe, many of you will notice that the mouth comes into play in our breathing process. For some of us it plays an important role and for many of us it plays a minor but discernible role.
The goal of ujjayi breathing is to keep the mouth completely closed while breathing. Therefore, he is not talking, biting his lip, or eating anything. Your mouth is completely closed. You start to breathe through your nose and, most importantly, you realize it by concentrating on your breathing. Slowly you inhale and exhale more and more deeply.
You start by exhaling all the air from your lungs and then a little more. Keep exhaling until one cannot exhale any more and then what follows is a natural deep inhalation. Keep doing this until the inhales and exhales are really very deep. Also, when you exhale, you should constrict your throat so that when you come out, it makes an audible sound. Then you stop your mind from wandering by paying attention to the breath. Slowly but surely you will realize that you have changed all the thoughts in your mind and all you are thinking about is the breathing exercise. All of your senses will be attuned to your breath and slowly but surely you will have lost consciousness outside of your own breath!
I told my daughter to do the same. She listened very carefully because she really wanted to sleep, the poor girl. He started to breathe through his nose and had a bit of a hard time doing it because he mostly breathes through his mouth. I corrected her and soon she was breathing deeply through her nose. He could feel his muscles relax as his breathing deepened. That’s another nice side effect of ujjayi breathing: slowly relax the muscles, neck muscles, back muscles, jaws, tongue, etc., until the whole body relaxes. Soon her body began to weaken and she muttered that I should take her with me to my yoga class. Within minutes he was completely unconscious and sleeping like a baby. I slapped myself on the back and also kicked myself for not having thought of this brilliant idea earlier. It would have saved my daughter from many difficult nights trying to get to sleep.
I can’t wait for the youngest of my brood to be old enough to understand and practice this technique. Yes, he also has trouble falling asleep. I can’t wait to teach you this lovely sleep technique and make your life easier!