#137 - Sensory Strategies for Better Sleep Quality!

by Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L February 03, 2021

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Sensory Strategies for Better Sleep Quality!

Back in 2018, we released our third podcast episode all about bedtime and sleep. This episode is an updated version of that episode - Sleep 2.0! Get ready for a discussion on WHY many children struggle to get a good night’s sleep as well as our fav tips, tricks, and strategies to help the entire family feel successful with bedtime. 



  • Use THIS LINK to check out The Listening Program (brought to you by Advanced Brain Technologies) 
    • You can also call them and let them know you heard about them on The Sensory Project Show! 
  • Check out our Primitive Reflex Crash Course HERE 
  • Learn more about Rhythmic Movement HERE 
  • Red Light Light Bulbs (Amazon) 
  • Check out Harkla’s Sleep Collection HERE 
    • Use the code “sensory” to receive a discount!


Sleep 2.0 Sensory Strategies For Better Sleep Quality

Whether it's a newborn with trouble falling asleep or an older child who struggles to stay asleep, sleep issues can be frustrating and exhausting for parents and children. But did you know that sensory strategies can play a significant role in improving sleep quality for children? 

Why Sleep Is So Important For Children

We all know that sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. But for children, getting enough quality sleep is even more crucial as it directly affects their physical growth, cognitive development, behavior, and emotional regulation.

During sleep, the brain processes information strengthens memory, and releases growth hormones that contribute to physical development. Lack of quality sleep can lead to several issues, such as difficulty concentrating, poor school performance, irritability, hyperactivity, and slower growth.

What Can Interfere With Your Child's Sleep

There are various reasons why children may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Some common factors that can interfere with sleep include:

  • Medical conditions such as asthma, allergies, acid reflux, and sleep disorders.
  • Psychological issues like anxiety, stress, and trauma.
  • Environmental factors such as noise, light, temperature, and uncomfortable bedding.
  • Poor sleep habits or routines.

Sensory Strategies To Improve Sleep Quality For Children

Implementing sensory strategies can effectively aid in your child's relaxation, preparation for sleep, and uninterrupted slumber. Here are several beneficial sensory techniques to optimize your child's sleep quality:

Stay Active And Keep Moving!

Encouraging your child to participate in physical activities during the day can have multiple benefits. Not only does it help them release excess energy, but it also promotes relaxation and improves sleep quality.

Even when it's cold outside, you can motivate them to play outdoors, engage in sports or dance, use a trampoline, or participate in other sensory-rich activities that stimulate their senses and regulate their nervous system. These activities keep them active and contribute to their overall well-being.

Create A Serene Bedroom Environment

Create a sleep-friendly environment in your child's bedroom by minimizing external distractions such as noise, light, and temperature. Consider using bedtime light bulbs designed to emit a softer, soothing glow. 

You can also use white noise machines to block out any disruptive sounds. Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature between 60-68°F, and make sure your child's bedding is soft and cozy for optimal comfort.

Use Sensory Tools Before Bedtime

Integrating sensory tools into your child's bedtime routine can aid in their relaxation and preparation for sleep. Utilizing weighted blankets, calming scents, white noise machines, or sound machines can be advantageous in establishing a serene environment that fosters restful sleep.

Establish Consistent Bedtime Routines

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can help signal your child's brain that it's time to wind down for the night. You can incorporate bathing, reading a book, or listening to soothing music.

To enhance the effectiveness of the routine, visual aids like timers, schedules, or charts can be utilized, aiding your child in learning and remembering the steps involved. Consistency is key, so try to follow the same routine every night.

Customized Bedtime Sensory Diet

A sensory diet consists of activities that provide suitable sensory input to regulate your child's nervous system. To enhance their daily routine, take into account the following suggestions:

  • Linear vestibular movements like gentle rocking in a chair or swaying on a swing in one direction. 
  • Proprioceptive heavy work like animal walks and pushing or pulling heavy objects, such as a loaded laundry basket. 
  • Incorporating a weighted vest for about 20 minutes. 
  • Using a weighted blanket while seated in bed or on the couch reading a story.
  • Experimenting with calming music like the listening program.
  • Essential oils like lavender, cedarwood, and Bedivere.
  • Integrate massage techniques such as deep pressure and utilize the brushing protocol. 
  • Take a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils.

Limit Screen Time Before Bed

Electronic devices emit blue light that can suppress the body's melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Avoiding screen time at least an hour before bedtime can help your child's brain and body wind down and prepare for sleep.

Final Advice For Parents

Remember that every child is unique; finding the perfect sensory strategies for your child's sleep may involve some experimentation. When introducing any changes to your child's sleep routine, it is essential to maintain consistency. 

Also, consult your child's healthcare provider if you have concerns about their sleep habits or quality. You can help your child achieve better sleep quality and promote overall well-being with patience, persistence, and the right sensory strategies.





While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L
Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L

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