Most children with sensory processing dysfunction have difficulties getting sleep and there are understandable reasons for this. We already know the causes which I have been describing in my previous blogs.
This time I will share some physical exercises that help my child sleep through the night. Sometimes, when my son has had an overstimulating day, he ends up lying awake in bed, tossing and turning for hours, unable to wind down even though he is in a dark and quiet room. At that moment, we practice some exercises to help him lower his level of alertness. For example, we start with the breathing exercise that involves squeezing and then releasing tense parts of our bodies. Our session lasts 30 minutes and it goes as follows:
- Focus your attention on your breath and exhale completely through your mouth by making a whooshing sound.
- Give yourself bear hugs and squeeze a soft ball in your hands.
- Pretend you are a furry, lazy cat that is stretching. Stretch your arms in front of you and over your head.
- Walk through a big, squishy mud puddle. Squish your toes down into the mud and use your legs to help you push down to the bottom.
- Lay on the ground and make your stomach hard and soft. Suck in your stomach and hold your breath slower and deeper, and let your breath out with a whooshing sound.
- Pretend you are a turtle and pull your head in tight by pushing your shoulders up to your ears. Hide your head!
- Exercise your jaw by biting down
- Repeat the exercises until you see your child relax.
I learned some of these exercises from my yoga class where the instructor always recommends breathing because it works in the same way as meditation. I believe the breathing exercise works because it really helps to relax my son’s neuro system and help him fall asleep.