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Make Bedtime Easier With Meditation for Kids

by BetterSleep
Nov 5 • 6 min read
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There’s a lot of research about the many benefits of meditation and breath exercises for adults, including better sleep. And now, emerging research shows it might help kids do the same.

If a child has challenges with relaxing at night, getting sleepy, or even with fears of the dark— meditation for kids might help with falling asleep and improving sleep quality. It’s an easy, free way to help kids with relaxation and sleep, even if calming their energy at night is initially challenging.

Let’s take a look at what the science has to say about guided meditation helping kids to sleep and why we should encourage kids to begin this practice.

Why Meditation Could Help Kids Sleep Better and Faster

Like their parents, kids often have stress. They’re no different than adults in that stress directly affects their ability to relax and go to sleep for better rest. Therefore, one of the primary ways meditation is shown to be beneficial for children is by alleviating external stressors.

Bedtime Meditation Reduces Stress and Anxiety

A study using mindfulness-based techniques, including meditation, showed positive outcomes in children and families dealing with stress. In another study, a yoga-based wellness program geared towards kids in inner-city schools reduced anxiety, depression, and distress.

On the surface, it may seem that these benefits come from already growing up with pretty tough challenges that the average child can’t relate to. However, that’s not necessarily the case. There’s new research that meditations benefit the overall mental health of children.

Meditation Improves Behavior Challenges

One study that used mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with kids between ages 9 and 13 showed significant reductions in attention problems, behavior challenges, and anxiety.

Another study in a school demonstrated that a yoga program that included breathing exercises and relaxation techniques reduced depression, anxiety, and fatigue in adolescents compared to physical education (PE) class alone.

Meditation practice can help calm your child for sleep, but it also improves their focus throughout the day. The spillover into their daily lives will help them do better at school and in relationships.

Sleep Meditation Helps Children Relax at Bedtime

Indeed, reducing stressors like depression and anxiety can positively impact a child’s ability to fall asleep. However, one study on a mindfulness-based program for elementary school children discovered not only many social and mental benefits but an additional physical benefit— reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And lower cortisol levels produced by the stress response can help promote more natural sleep.

At What Age Should Kids Start Meditating?

Every child is different but even as young as three years old, a toddler can begin basic relaxation and breathing exercises.

You know your child best and when they might be ready to sit quietly for a few minutes at a time. Mindfulness isn’t just for adults. You might be surprised at how prepared a child is to focus on the present, on their feelings, and on their breath.

How to Get Kids to Meditate Before Bed

Meditation can be challenging enough for adults. So, how can you get a child to remain still to meditate?

Start with Kid-Friendly Meditations

Pre-recorded guided meditations made for kids and rest— and their smaller attention spans— are an excellent place to start.

These recordings guide children with brief and straightforward instructions on various topics like getting the wiggles out of the body, being brave in the dark, having gratitude, and even focusing on positive thoughts before going off to dreamland.

You can find a wide selection of guided sleep meditations for kids on the BetterSleep app and site.

Use the guided meditations designed for young children as they’re simple and short. Start with just a minute or two at a time or with meditations that include a focus.

For instance, a quick body scan meditation is easy for youngsters. They might need practice staying calm, but eventually, they will get the hang of it.

Make Meditation an Extension of Story Time

Story time before bed is already a relaxing, peaceful transition to sleep. If you want to add meditation to your kid’s routine, make it a part of a ritual they already enjoy. Turn on a soothing light, get warm and cozy, and tell a story that becomes a meditation.

Meditation can be story-based. This is a good transition between normal story time and a new tradition of meditating together at bedtime. A story meditation is also helpful in that it makes it easier to begin visualizing, focusing, and using their imagination. They can start to imagine themes that promote calm. This works for new meditators of all ages, not just kids.

Meditate Together

Depending on your child’s age, it’s recommended that you stay alongside and listen too. Meditating with them creates a positive example while helping the child feel more comfortable. And then, of course, you sleep soundly too! It can be a whole family activity.

However, if your child is older and prefers privacy, that’s okay.

The most powerful thing about meditating together is that it sets an example. Parents lead best by their actions. If you take time out of your busy day to be quiet and still, your child will too. They will see that it has value.

Read Their Mood

Success in meditating requires adaptability. A child might be feeling full of energy at bedtime and need a meditation to feel relaxed. Or, they might be feeling a little down and do better with a happy, cheerful meditation. Try to match the rhythm of your child’s mood and determine what they need before bed.

Make Meditation a Habit

Finally, use the power of habit. Getting your child to get into sleep meditation can be a chore initially. Be persistent and consistent; what begins as a chore becomes a habit. Chances are, you will also want to give up at some point. Be a good model for consistently choosing healthy activities and stick with it even when neither of you wants to.

For those difficult nights when you’re worn out and your child resists the idea of meditating, commit to at least one minute of bedtime meditation. Once you get started, you might find you want to continue.

Sleep meditation is great for both children and adults. Your child will be steps ahead if you make it a regular practice at an early age. Use child-friendly meditations, make it fun, and do it together for the best results and sound sleep for both of you.

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