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How to Help Your Sensory Child Sleep

originally written for and published on Wolf+Friends

Did you know that sleep directly impacts physical and mental development in children? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that preschoolers get 10-13 hours of sleep, while school-aged children get 9-11 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, the battle over bedtime is not a new one and this makes those recommendations hard to live up to! Parents know that it can be tricky establishing a bedtime routine that is effective in getting your little one to sleep. Why not take a second look at your child’s bedroom design to see if any tweaks could make bedtime a happier (and easier!) experience for everyone!

Consider the texture of fabrics. Does your child prefer flannel? cotton? sateen? Their favorite t-shirt will help clue you into what fabric texture would be most appealing on their bed. Likewise, tune into what clothes and fabrics they dislike wearing, and make sure those are not mimicked in their bedding! Heavier comforters, down-filled duvets, sleeping bags or weighted blankets can have a relaxing effect, because of the extra pressure, especially for children experiencing sensory disorders, anxiety, stress or issues related to autism. Sometimes you can replicate this weight by adding a heavier quilt on top of existing bedding.

weighted blanket

For children who prefer their own calming sensory spaces, bed tents or canopies may help by providing a sensory-deprived environment. For the child who is sensitive to the noises down the hall that keep him/her awake, consider a white noise machine near the bedroom door or an iPhone/iPad app that is designed to elicit sleep-specific brain waves.

Of course, it's always fun to play on your child’s interests and find a theme-designed bed constructed to look like your child’s favorite car, boat, or castle!

Keep in mind that it is most helpful to have a bedtime routine that is predictable for your child. No matter what you choose for a bedroom design, make choices that promote the positivity of sleep for your child. Sweet dreams!


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