Desperate for a good nights sleep?
If you strain to remember the wonderful nightly activity of closing your eyes and remaining horizontal for eight hours, the good news is, getting your little one to sleep faster, at the right time of day (or night) and for longer periods could be easier than you think. Knowing a few simple facts about two molecules in the brain can make all the difference.
A molecule in the brain, known as serotonin affects mood, social behaviour, digestion, memory and you guessed it...sleep. Serotonin is one of the most important molecules for regulating the sleep/wake cycle. Higher levels of serotonin are associated with wakefulness while lower levels are associated with sleep.
The brain synthesises serotonin to make another molecule called melatonin, this is the hormone directly related to healthy sleep. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, when melatonin is taken as a supplement it helps people with sleep disorders get to sleep more quickly.
The trick to getting some rest lies in knowing how to ensure serotonin and melatonin levels are optimum and trying to ensure these molecules are released at the right time. Luckily enough, that's easier than it sounds and it can be as simple as giving your baby a short massage once or twice a day.
It's all in the timing...
Getting the timing right is vital. People often think that just because they feel sleepy after a massage, surely their baby will as well. In actual fact, massage stimulate a babies nervous system and serotonin levels increase directly after massage. This means that massage initially 'wakes them up' as opposed to getting them to sleep.
How can this be a good thing?
By giving your baby a massage after they wake up instead of before they go to sleep, you will be increasing serotonin levels at the right time of day - that is, a time when you actually want them to be awake. Remember, the brain will then synthesise serotonin to produce melatonin. After some time has passed, an increase in melatonin will follow, helping to induce sleep and regulate your baby's 'body clock' or circadian rhythms.
Massage does not have to be done for any specific length of time. Certified Infant Massage Instructors suggest it's best to go with the amount of time you and your baby are happy with rather than trying to massage for a set number of minutes.
If you'd like to try massage to help with sleep for both you and your baby, but you're not quite sure how to get started, visit the 'Getting started' guide put together by the Infant Massage Information Service. If step-by-step tuition is more what you have in mind, the information service provides a free referral service. Simply contact the information service via www.babymassage.net.au with your name, email address and post-code. They will then be in touch with the details of qualified instructors in your local area so you can attend a baby massage class or private appointment with a Certified Infant Massage Instructor.