Sensory for Sleep

Sensory for Sleep

There are very few things (if any) more important for a child’s development than sleep. Sleep is essential for growth, brain health and overall wellbeing.

Poor sleep, or lack of sleep entirely, can be one of the biggest contributors leading to a child under achieving or struggling to reach their educational goals and developmental milestones.

So what can we do?

Managing environments to help control inputs to certain senses critical to sleep is a great way in ensure your child gets good quality rest. Those key sleep senses are: Tactile (touch), Visual, Auditory (sound) and Temperature.

Let's take a closer look...



Bedding texture, weighted blankets and pyjamas can all have an effect on sleep.

Each child will respond differently to tactile input. Some will not like a particular set of bedding, or pyjamas of a certain texture. They may be over-responsive to tactile input. If this is the case, try changing either of these until they find something they like.

On the contrary, they could be seeking extra tactile input for sleep. in this case, try adding a weighted blanket or weighted toy to their bed time routine. Weighted items provide Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), which is believed to assist in the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.


Soft lighting, calming colours and picture projections create a relaxing sleep environment.

Visual input can play a massive part in creating a stable bed time routine. Calming mood lighting, in particular blue coloured light, is a great way to create a relaxing, sleep-friendly environment. Though this is not to be confused with the blue light emitted from electrical devices, such as phones and tablets. This type of light can actually have the opposite effect and be detrimental to our sleep process, by activating our brains rather than encouraging a state of rest. It is strongly recommended to reduce exposure to devices within an hour or two of going to sleep. Try substituting early evening tablet time with reading or low energy activities such a puzzles. 

Others may like no light at all in order to fall asleep. For this, there are some great tools, such as black out blinds or eye masks, that can produce the right setting for them to transition into sleep. Darkness has actually been proven essential for sleep, with the absence of light sending critical signals to the body that it is time to rest. It is good practice to slowly reduce the dependance on night lights as children get older - it will improve their quality of sleep in later life. 


Try using white noise or their favourite music to help to assist with the transition to sleep.

You may have already heard of white noise. It's a great tool for fast tracking the transition into sleep, improving overall sleep quality and supporting general sleep health. White noise can tune out and mask environmental or outside noises that are causing a disturbance to our sleep environment, and even help to train your brain to know when it's time to nod off. It is however, not recommended to keep white noise going throughout the entire night. Most white noise products and apps have a timer you can set, so that it is only used to assist with the transition to sleep, and then turn off after an hour or so. Over exposure to noise during sleep has been shown to increase the production of hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause an elevated heart rate and increase in blood pressure.

Noise for sleep assistance is also not for everyone, and some individuals may instead need to create a completely silent environment for sleep. Try using headphones or silicone ear plugs to achieve this. 

Silence has been scientifically proven to be beneficial for humans to sleep, though again, this really comes down to individual preference. If a child can only transition to sleep with the use of noise, this is far better than not being able to sleep at all in a silent environment, so be practical and assess your child's needs. 



You need about a 1-2 degree reduction in body temperature to improve sleep quality.

It may be surprising, but our core body temperature is one of the most critical factors when it comes to falling asleep, and one of the main indicators that it is time to go to bed. In order to transition into sleep, our body must reduce in temperature by 1-2 degrees. This drop in temperature starts about two hours before you go to sleep, coinciding with the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. Normally this process occurs without any external assistance, but an overly hot room can make it harder for our bodies to achieve, and take a lot longer to reach this necessary temperature reduction. 

Create a cool room by opening windows, installing a fan, or purchasing a cooling mattresses. Though be careful, a room that is too cold can have the opposite effect. In extreme cases, prolonged exposure to cold rooms (even only as low as 15 degrees) when sleeping can cause mild hypothermia, sickness and insomnia. The perfect temperature to aim for is about 18.5 degrees. If you do plan to open windows for night time, just be aware of dropping outside temperatures throughout the night. 



So what can I buy to help?

The good news is, there are a lot of great products around to help tackle sleep issues, and most focus on directly targeting the senses we've already discussed above. We've briefly mentioned a few of these items, but let's take a look at them in a bit more detail.

Harkla weighted Blanket

This is a great choice and by far our favourite out there. Featuring various sizes and weights, from 2.25kg up to 6.5kg, you are sure to find one to suit every individuals needs.

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AuraSong Himalayan Salt Lamp & Speaker

This a sensory jackpot. With calming sounds and a soft glow, this lamp can send even the most restless of us drifting off into sleep.

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Sensory Sensations Colourful Projection Lamp

Lamp projectors are hands down great. A perfect, inexpensive way to create an atmosphere that will calm and relax the senses.

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Harkla Sensory Compression Sheet

If bedding is turning out to be an issue, Harkla have come to the rescue. Their well designed compression bed sheets are not only made from manageable texture for this with sensory disorders, the lycra in them creates a perfect amount of proprioceptive input that some individuals crave to be relaxed before bedtime. 

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Cloud B - Tranquil Turtle

A perfect combination of visual and auditory input, this little guy projects a wonderful underwater effect whilst his shell glows a relaxing blue. There is also an option of two soothing sounds to accompany the lights, along with a built in timer!

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LED Lunar Nightlight

Features 2 light colours that resemble the moon! With a warm light and soft white light, it's perfect for those who benefit with a calming nightlight.

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Plus many, many more...

You'll find a whole range of great sleep-focused products on our website, go and have a look for yourself! 

Shop Here for Sensory, Self regulation and Special needs

And as always, if you have any questions related this blog topic (or questions in general!), we are just a phone call, email or shop visit away to help. And we love hearing from you!

Sleep well,

The Starfish Store.

Your Free Guide

40 Proprioceptive activities for the classroom. Simple and practical activities to incorporate Proprioceptive into the classroom. 16 A4 sheets to print for your classroom, therapy space or home.