Having trouble getting your kids to sleep soundly at night? The bedtime battle is a real struggle for many families. When kids don’t get enough sleep, it can affect brain development, mood, and learning.
Besides sticking to a consistent routine, there are some other tips and tricks that can be helpful. It is important to consider the surrounding environment in which children rest and the activities they engage in before heading to bed. Nature is a compelling tool that can create a calming bedroom space to help your children relax, unwind, and fall asleep easily without any fuss.
Here are some ways you can incorporate nature into your family’s bedtime routine.
Nature Bedroom Décor
There are so many visual elements of nature that can help children feel calmer, such as patterns, colors, and animals. Consider hanging art on the walls that present calming nature images, like trees or birds in the sky, to create a tranquil atmosphere in their bedroom. Try choosing nature art with patterns, since scientists have discovered that naturally occurring patterns—called fractals—are aesthetically pleasing and help reduce stress. Examples include clouds, leaves, tree branches, flowers, shells, and feathers.
Next, the colors we choose for our kids’ bedroom can also play a role since the most calming colors stem from nature. According to color psychology experts, blue calms the mind and body, minimizes feelings of anxiety and aggression, and creates a sense of well-being. The color green also promotes a serene and calming environment and is associated with wellness and healing. Neutral colors—tan, beige, ecru, cream, light brown, taupe, and gray—manifest an organic, earthy feeling that soften the edges and warm up a space in a soothing way.
Of course, many types of animals bring joy and peace to children. You can add animals to your home décor by hanging photographs and artwork of animals in their natural environment, choosing furniture containing animal motifs, or painting an animal mural on the wall.
Nature Sleep Sounds
Some sounds are clearly more relaxing than others. When we step outdoors and listen mindfully to nature, we often feel more relaxed as a result of the restorative effect of natural noises. We can replicate that experience in our kids’ bedrooms by playing recordings of nature sounds like birdsong, wind, rain, ocean waves, and trickling water. Besides masking disruptive noises that might keep our kids up, such as traffic or airplanes flying overhead, natural sleep sounds reduce stress and anxiety.
The best nature sounds are those that provide a sense of natural space and mimic the biorhythms of an ecosystem like a forest. Loud screeching and croaking are just not going to result in the same calming feelings as sounds of water, for example, which are very soothing because of their slow, rhythmic whooshing noises. So, stock up on nature music CD’s or download some apps to help your kids relax at night. You can even record your own nature sounds from times you spent at the beach or went on a hike.
Another way to get your kids ready to doze off is to try nature meditation. These visualizations target one or more of the senses to help kids feel still and relaxed as they gently engage their imagination. A simple one would be to ask your children to close their eyes and see in their mind the different colors of a rainbow. You can ask them to think about how each color smells, tastes, and feels. Another idea is to have them paint a nature scene in their mind, such as a sunset or jungle. If you need some guidance, you can search for nature-related kids sleep meditation online, including Green Child Magazine’s guided meditations for kids.
Every child loves a good story before bedtime. As it turns out, reading is the best way to relax, according to a research study out of the United Kingdom. Reading is a healthy distraction and helps kids feel calmer as they focus on the words they are listening to or reading. Books also help our kids escape from the present moment into a world of imagination that captures all their attention. They may become so completely engaged in the story to the point of reaching a calm, meditative state that is great for dozing off. Additionally, bedtime stories bring you closer to your child and help them feel safe and secure so they can get to sleep easily.
Nature-related stories are the perfect choice for bedtime since kids can think about and visualize the beauty of nature. Stories with natural, whimsical imagery can transport your kids to beautiful and serene locations, such as a garden or beach. Having positive, colorful imagery swirling around in their minds as their heads hits the pillow can help them get a good night’s sleep. Nature poetry also does a wonderful job capturing the beauty of nature. Consider reading some of the most famous nature poets like Robert Frost and John Keats or looking for children’s nature poetry books.
By trying some of these nature tricks, hopefully your kids will sleep tight tonight. If you are not sure how much sleep your kids should be getting, check out this handy kids sleep calculator.