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Calming the mind before bedtime

by Suzanne Wintner, MSW, LICSW, PhD

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The start of the new school year can be exciting, overwhelming, and oftentimes anxiety provoking. For kids whose thoughts and emotions are still running at the end of the day, it can be hard to calm down and fall asleep. This might look like lots of physical energy and a hard time transitioning to bed, or laying awake in bed thinking about the upcoming school day. Bedtime meditation can help calm the mind, relax the body, and promote mindfulness skills for a more restful sleep.

Benefits of bedtime meditation for kids

Getting a good night’s sleep is important to a person’s physical and mental well-being. For little ones whose bodies are growing and whose minds have so much information to organize, sleep is especially important. Children’s bedtime guided meditation calms the mind, melts away worries, and promotes feelings of safety and comfort. For this reason, a more mindful bedtime routine is particularly beneficial for kids who have anxiety or difficulty sleeping. Mindfulness meditation also promotes skills that reduce stress and encourage self-regulation and focus that lead to peaceful sleep. Overall, guided meditation for children can make bedtime much easier and more pleasurable for kids and their families.  Learn more about child meditation and some of the benefits here.

Choosing a bedtime meditation

Bedtime meditations for kids often draw on their imaginations and incorporate fun kid-friendly sleep stories or visualizations. Whatever meditation activity you choose, be sure that it is in sync with your child’s age group and comprehension level. Short, sweet, and simple often works best. Some nights, your child may only need a mindful moment. Other nights, a more involved guided meditation might be better. Feel free to use a meditation for kids that is specific to bedtime, or any sleep meditation  that prompts kids to relax. You can find free meditations on meditation apps and a variety of bedtime meditations online, including deep breathing and other breathing exercises that are specifically geared towards kids with anxiety or other challenges that make it hard to quiet the mind. Here is an example of the kinds of kids’ meditations you can find online.

Introducing meditation to your child

If meditation is a new concept for your child, there are a few things to consider. Perhaps they will be eager to try it out. Or it may take time and persistence to help your child warm up to the idea of bedtime meditation. Adjusting to new routines can be difficult for kids. But meditation is not something that should be forced. Enlist your child to help find a meditation practice they like. If they are part of the decision, they may be more likely to buy into the experience of a bedtime meditation story or some type of guided relaxation.

Other ways to unwind before bedtime

The hustle and bustle of modern life, and numerous distractions, can make winding down at the end of the day a challenge. Luckily there are some things you can do to help your kids settle down. Try limiting electronics after a certain time, such as television or tablets. Instead, consider playing a board game or reading a bedtime story together. Having a cozy space where you can retire for the evening can also make a difference. Create a warm atmosphere where your child can feel safe and sleep with fabrics, pillows, and cuddly toys they find comforting. Finally, incorporating a kids’ bedtime meditation can provide just the transition your child needs for a quality sleep that will set them up for success in the day to come.

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