Lack of routine, anxiety and sleep problem – how are they connected?
Most of us have felt it. Sometimes it creeps up on you throughout a particularly stressful day, taking you altogether by surprise. In some cases, it’s a exhausting state of mind that can leave you physically and emotionally drained, highly strung, nervous or even completely paralysed.
Studies have shown that anxiety is one of the leading causes of health problems in adults over the age 25, and between working, looking after a family and striking a balanced lifestyle, it seems no one is immune. Considering how debilitating it can be for adults, just imagine how overwhelming it can be for babies and toddlers! Separation anxiety is a particularly sensitive area for babies and toddlers and inevitably high levels of anxiety will significantly impact a developing child, from mid-sleep disruptions to night terrors, fear of napping or simply a resistance to sleeping alone.
So what can you do to ease your precious child’s sleep anxiety and establish a healthy, happy, sleep routine?
Children who struggle to sleep
As a Gentle Sleep Consultant, I offer you some tried and tested, gentle sleep solutions for you and your child that may just be the key to moving through a particularly challenging problem while establishing an effective sleep routine.
The importance of routine
One of the key factors in overcoming separation or sleep anxiety at nap or bedtime is consistency. Babies and toddlers thrive on routine as it inspires a natural sense of safety, security and familiarity with both their own place of sleep and internal body clock. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to establish a consistent schedule for nap times, bedtime and wake times. By providing your child with a carefully designed sleep routine, you can significantly decrease their level of separation anxiety as they form a greater level of trust and security within the defined structure you provide for them. Allow me to offer a comparison: think of how difficult it can be to sleep in a completely foreign country when you’re jet lagged! Now imagine how challenging it would be for a child to adjust to inconsistent bedtimes – quite difficult! To further alleviate your child’s sense of sleep anxiety while establishing their sleep routine, you can help guide them through the process by creating a specific (and consistent!) routine that provides soothing cues, such as nappy changing, cuddles, laying down together, bed time story and then lights out. By being consistent with your own process, your child can adjust and relax into the oncoming sleep, significantly reducing their level of anxiety! This process can be a great way for you to bond with your child and you can have fun being creative with the routine you establish!
Read more about anxiety and sleep problems for both adults and children here.