Sleep Resources for: Caregivers

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for kids, adolescents and adults.

As a caregiver, parent, babysitter, or other facilitator, we know you have a lot on your plate keep your family members safe, maintain routines during stressful times, and make sure you and your family get enough healthy sleep. Use our lesson plans to start open conversations about healthy sleep habits in your space, encourage curiosity about health and the body, and inspire discussions about treating others with kindness.

Image of how to help children and adolescents cope with COVID19

COVID-19 may be causing new stress and anxiety for your family members.

When adults deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. There are many things you can do to support your students. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information: https://go.usa.gov/xvxea. #shareNIMH


Our Lessons

Our lessons are designed for grades K-5 with the flexibility for you to decide how much depth is appropriate for your children. The activities themselves usually take about 5-10 minutes; full lessons might be 20+ minutes with lots of conversation! Most of the materials should be easy to find around the house; feel free to reach out if you want to brainstorm alternatives.

Sleep LessonsSocktopusStarry Night Light
DescriptionMake a bedtime buddy to talk about sleep routines.Create a paper lantern to talk about sleep promoters.

About Healthy Sleep Habits

  • Sleep is vital for the body and brain
  • Sometimes children are surprised to learn that the brain doesn’t “shut off” for the night! Multiple parts of the brain are active during sleep, involving structures responsible for consolidating memories, controlling the transitions between sleep and wake, relaxing muscles, processing emotions, and more.
  • Circadian rhythms control your timing of sleep. It acts as the body’s biological clock and synchronizes with environmental cues (like light and the temperature) to make us sleepy at night and more awake in the morning
  • There are two basic types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM). Each is linked to specific patterns of brain activity, measures in waves. Everyone cycles through all stages of non-REM and REM sleep several times per night.
4 stages of sleep
The four stages of sleep. Illustrated JR Bee, Verywell
  • Researchers and scientists are still working to better understand the risks involved with being chronically sleep deprived and the relationship between sleep and disease, but studies suggest that people who are chronically sleep deprived are more likely to be overweight, have strokes and cardiovascular disease, infections, and certain types of cancer than those who get enough sleep.

Certain behaviors during the day and especially before bed can have a major effect on our quality of sleep at night. Talking with family members about sleep routines and incorporating healthy practices throughout the day can make your family happier, healthier, and ready to start each day!

  • During the day, some activities that help support healthy sleep include:
    • Try to keep blinds or curtains open, especially first thing in the morning.
    • Incorporate daily exercise/activity into the day. Among many benefits, the changes in the body’s energy use and temperature regulation promote healthy sleep.
    • Discuss the negative effects of caffeine on sleep and try to avoid having caffeine-heavy beverages with every meal, such as sodas.
  • Other actions that promote healthy sleep:
    • Setting up a schedule or routine – going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is a great way to help the body get better sleep
    • Engaging in a relaxing activity before bed, such as warm bath, reading, or a relaxing routine
    • Create a comforting sleep space, as quiet and dark as possible – but if your family members share rooms and don’t have much control over the environment, that’s ok! You can still incorporate lots of healthy practices into a bedtime routine, like reading with a stuffed animal or practicing mindfulness.

For more information about healthy sleep, see the NIH.

If you are looking for additional resources or know someone who is struggling with healthy sleep, please reach out to your school’s counselor/psychologist, or if you are in the District of Columbia area, the Children’s National Sleep Laboratory by calling 202-476-2128. In case of emergency, always call 911.


Sleep in Context: How to Support Family Members

Incorporate mindfulness practices into daily routines: short meditations, yoga, deep breathing exercises and reflection spaces are all easy ways to practice mindfulness during the day.

Try following along with a guided breathing video in the evening. Here are a few good options:

Make a diary to help your family track their bedtime routines and how rested they feel. Then, look for trends and patterns. Here is a sample you could use.

Try out a sleep podcast!

Be Calm on Ahway Island features relaxing, original short stories for kids!  Each episode begins with a guided meditation and contains a positive message — perfect for bedtime, nap time, or any time it’s relax time! (Available through Apple Podcasts or anywhere you stream podcasts)

Check out your local Public Library’s selection of audio books. If you are a DCPL cardholder, you can request titles to check out for your family here. Reach out to your local library for more information.


Sources

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Bernstein, R (2016)Hermann, N (1997)University of Michigan (2018); and Brain and Body Solutions