Over the past few weeks, my LO has been having nightmares. In one instance, she got up crying and shivering uncontrollably, almost as though she had a fever. The following day when I asked her about her ‘bad dream’, she could vividly remember something about a rocket that was short on fuel, the planets in the solar system, her mum and dad etc.
Apparently, bad dreams or nightmares are extremely common in 5-8 year olds. In fact, it makes sense too. At that age, children start developing a deeper understanding of the world and its dynamics. With this insight, comes a refined sense of imagination as well as the power to retain and remember things for a long time. Hence, if the child sees a scary movie, hears about a tragic incident or even learns something new at school in the course of the day, it might translate into a bad dream at night. Other obvious causes of nightmares include a significant change in routine (joining a new school) or emotional relationships (loss/death of a family member, an ugly quarrel between parents).
Once you have established what kind of disturbance is keeping your child awake, there are several simple things you can do about it.
- A warm water bath closer to bedtime works well in a couple of ways. Not only does it RELAX a child almost instantly; it also eliminates the need to have one in the morning right before school.
- Mild essential oils like lavender or chamomile help promote sleep and eliminate nightmares. You could either incorporate it in the bath or put a couple of drops on his/her pillow at sleep time.
- Playing soothing music at bedtime helps children drift into calm sleep. This has worked wonders with my daughter. We have downloaded the Braveheart theme instrumental soundtrack tribute and swear by it every night. In fact, if there is an adult in the household that suffers from insomnia, listening to this track can help improve his/her sleep patterns too.
- Be wary of what your child eats during the day, and particularly towards the end of the day. Foods with excess sugar, caffeine, artificial coloring and/or preservatives are deterrents to restful sleep.
- Make the environment comfortable. Use 100% cotton bed sheets, duvets and night suits for comfort. Experts recommend that a temperature of 18 to 24 degree Celsius is ideal for a child’s room.
I’d also like to add that two globules of the homeopathic remedy Kali Phos 6X works well for children who are anxious, restless and frequently woken by nightmares. However, these are simple home remedies that I have tried and tested on my daughter over the years. They are not to be regarded as a substitute for medicines in any way. Please refer to your medical practitioner for expert views on any health-related subject