Counting Sheep is a Myth
May 13, 2014  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

Counting sheep is a mental exercise used in some cultures as a means to get to sleep. The majority of depictions of this is a person imagining an infinite series of white identical sheep that, one by one, jump over a fence while the person counts them. The truth is, counting sheep is rarely used as a trick to get to sleep. In fact, an experiment developed by Oxford University, proved that people who imagine a sandy beach or a waterfall fell asleep faster tan those who counted sheep. But the idea is the same: occupying the mind with something simple, repetitive and rhythmic to help get to sleep. Now that we know that counting sheep is more a stereotype tan anything else, what other tricks can we use to get our children to sleep?  Here are some new clues and advice.

As parents, we know that the common errors are: not imposing a routine, having too much for dinner with sugary desserts included, over-stimulate then before going to bed or keeping them up late and not creating a good atmosphere for sleep. If you aren´t doing this and it´s still difficult to put your child to bed, try doing this:

Make his or her bedroom the perfect place to be with a comfy bed surrounded by their favorite stuffed animals. It´s very important that the room be isolated from noise and light.

There are parents who choose to use aromatherapy to induce their children´s sleep. Wheat-filled pillows that can be warmed in the microwave liberate a calming mix of lavender and chamomile.

After the bath, dinner, brushing teeth and storybook routine, there are those who practice relaxation and breathing exercises that work wonders. Besides, learning to do this can be very useful during the day when your children are over excited and need to settle down. Try this: while they are laying down with their eyes closed, have them breath in thru their nose for 4 seconds, hold their breath for 2 and release their breath thru their mouth for another 4. Repeat this at least 5 times.  For more advice on how to unwind, click here.



Visualize. This is a great technique to help them unwind and leave aside worries and negative thoughts. Help them imagine a relaxing landscape such as a beach or a forest and ask them what it´s like what it smells like and what color is the sky. If they see this as something fun to do, it will teach them how to get back to sleep in case they wake up at night.

Your child´s sleep cycle does not only depend on light but on temperature. The natural melatonin in our bodies helps regulate our temperature and help us get ready for sleep. But you can regulate the external temperature. Avoid heavy warm pajamas and don´t turn the heat on too high. If their room is a bit cooler than room temperature, better yet.

What tricks do you use to get your child to sleep? There are many parents who read us who would like to know.

Photo Credits: Nana B Agyei

Photo Credits: Jay Malone




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