Sleepy Time episode five – Settling down to sleep technique for five to eight year olds
Older children can also have trouble settling down at bedtime. This gentle bedtime meditation routine is designed to calm their busy minds and help them to relax
Follow the soothing bedtime meditation exercises to release any physical tension from the day and snuggle down for a good night’s sleep.
Our bedtime podcast is brought to you in association with parenting website MadeForMums. Each episode is written by psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading and narrated by Gemma David of The Quiet Heart.
Read on for a transcript of the episode…
Settle down to sleep with Suzy Reading's mindful bedtime meditation for children
The day is drawing to a close and now it’s just time to settle down for sleep. We all need rest and sleep because this is when your body heals and grows and your mind has a chance to relax. When you sleep it fills back up your energy too, so let’s take some time now to get ready for a restful night, so you have lots of energy tomorrow for all the things you like to do. Well done for taking such good care of your mind and body.
Sometimes even when you feel tired, you might still have some zingy energy in your body. Sometimes your mind might feel quite busy too. It’s all ok, we all feel like that sometimes. Let your body be as it is. Let your mind be as it is. Let’s try some soothing exercises and see if they help you feel calmer and more ready to melt into bed. Lie down on your back on top of your sheets and let’s just connect with your body. Before we make any movements, lying on top of your covers, just notice how your body feels, letting it all be exactly as you find it. Start at the top of your head, noticing how all the muscles of your face feel, your neck, and your shoulders, letting them all soften. Notice your arms and your hands just flopping down into your bed. Feel your chest, your sides and your tummy. Maybe you can feel them move with your breath. Take a few breaths now and just notice what you feel moving. There is no right or wrong, just feel your breathing.
Notice your whole spine supported by your mattress, let it hold you here. Feel your hips and your thighs growing heavy. Let your knees, your calves and your feet also drop. Don’t worry if your body doesn’t feel ready for stillness yet. Its ok, just notice how it feels right now, letting it all be as it is. Now let’s do some gentle movement, helping you let go of any of that zingy energy.
Start by wriggling your toes, can you feel them all, even your little toes? And then let them rest again. Next, draw some circles with your feet, helping your relax your ankles. Make five one way and then try five the other way. Don’t worry if this is tricky! Just enjoy seeing what you can do. Maybe your grown up could even help you make this little movement of your feet, circling your feet with you by guiding your toes. Notice how nice this feels. And then let your feet just rest again.
Now hug one knee into your chest. Give it a squeeze, holding on with both hands, and feel the lovely stretch this gives you in your hip and lower back. Let your leg stretch out again and see if it feels any different to the other leg. Just get curious. Now hug the other knee into your chest, squeezing it in with both hands. Then let it go again. If this feels nice, you could do it a few more times on each leg, feeling your body relax even more. Then let all that movement go and enjoy being still again. Slowly breathing in. Slowly breathing out.
Now it’s time to snuggle under your covers. Does your body feel a little calmer now? Don’t worry if you still have some energy to use up. We are going to enjoy some relaxing exercises for your hands and your arms. Lying on your back, enjoying the sensation of your covers on your body, letting your arms rest down by your sides. Give your fingers a little wriggle, tickling your covers. And then let all your fingers relax again. Now make a gentle fist with your hands, feeling this work your arms too. And then let it go with a long sigh, ahhhhh. Make another fist with your hands and this time, squeeze your shoulders up to your ears too. This feels like even more work! Then let that go with another long relaxed sigh, ahhhh. It feels good to let it go! Now make a fist one more time, lift your shoulders up to your ears AND squish up your face too, making it wrinkled up like a raisin! And let it all go.
Notice how much easier it is to be still after doing a little bit of squeezing work. Take another few breaths resting here, noticing if you feel any different to when we started. You are safe and everything is ok as it is. Now bring your hands to rest onto your tummy. Let them relax there and feel them gently move with your breath. As you breath in, let your tummy fill, your hands going along for the ride, feel how this raises your hands. And you breathe out, let your tummy empty, feeling how your hands drop back down. Take some more calming breaths into your tummy, focusing your mind on how it feels to be breathing and your hands just going along for the ride.
Any time a thought comes to you, bring your mind back to your relaxing belly breathing. Thoughts will come and go, it’s all ok, just keep bringing your mind back to your hands and let yourself soften and drop. Stay here on your back if this feels good or curl up on your side whenever you feel ready. Every time a thought comes up, bring your mind back to your breath or the feeling of your body melting into bed. Just rest, sleep will come.