Who Can Benefit From A Compression Sheet?
What is a Sensory Compression Sheet?
Compression sheets are soft, machine washable, breathable, and made with sensory needs in mind. The perfect addition to bedtime, the compression sheet allows for movement without decreasing the input provided.
Sensory compression sheet offers deep touch pressure (like a hug), which helps regulate the nervous system. Deep touch pressure releases serotonin which then turns into melatonin, leading to deeper, more restful sleep.
Who can benefit from a Compression Sheet?
Anyone who needs to sleep better!
But let’s get more specific. The compression sheet was designed specifically for children with sensory processing challenges, including those with or without a diagnosis (i.e. autism, ADHD, etc.), who struggle to fall and stay asleep at night.
Let’s break down the benefits a bit more!
Let’s look at a child struggling with bedtime - specifically falling asleep, which includes getting into bed and staying in bed. This child may crawl into bed at bedtime, but then they toss and turn, cannot get comfortable, refuse to close their eyes and get up out of bed several times.
They may also exhibit signs of anxiety or hyperactivity, despite the late hour. This child may benefit from using the compression sheet during the bedtime routine - crawling underneath for calming compression, laying under the sheet while reading, etc. The calming compression may help this child get more comfortable and begin to drift off to sleep.
Now let’s look at a child who falls asleep easily but then wakes up several times throughout the night. This child is exhausted but cannot seem to stay asleep for more than a couple of hours at a time (if that!). Then, once up, they struggle to fall asleep again. This happens several times every night, and come morning, everyone is exhausted. This child may benefit from using the compression sheet throughout the night, especially while initially falling asleep.
SENSORY INPUTS PROVIDED BY THE SENSORY SHEETS
Deep Touch Pressure The compression sheet specifically provides proprioceptive input - deep pressure as well as tactile input, which is also known as Deep Touch Pressure (DTP). This type of sensory input has been shown to provide a calming effect for various individuals and situations.
Proprioceptive input Proprioception is the awareness of the position and movement of the body. Sensory receptors are located on your skin, joints, and muscles. When we move, these sensory receptors send signals to our brain, telling it about the movement's effort, force, and heaviness. Then our body can provide an appropriate response.
When we think about proprioceptive movement, we can also include heavy work - any movement that works the muscles and deep pressure - any input that provides pressure to our body, and vibration. Proprioceptive input is typically calming to the nervous system.
Individuals are usually not over-responsive to proprioception, meaning they don't have over-reactions to this type of sensory input. We do, however, see individuals who are under-responsive or sensory craving, meaning they want more heavy work, crashing, hugs, etc. These individuals typically respond well to the input that a compression sheet provides.
The compression sheet provides proprioceptive input as you lay underneath it. You can adjust your body to get comfortable and adjust the sheet to cover your entire body or just your legs - whatever feels good! Because it’s breathable, you can also safely lay fully underneath.
TIPS FOR INTRODUCING THE COMPRESSION SHEET TO YOUR CHILD
Some children LOVE the compression sheet immediately - these children love the compression that is provided.
However, some children are more hesitant when using the sheet and may be resistant for a variety of reasons. Some children do not like the new feeling initially - new and different can be hard! Additionally, some children struggle to process tactile input, and while the sheet is made out of soft material, it is still new, and again, new can be challenging, especially for kiddos who are more rigid in their thinking! This is especially true for adding a new item to the bedtime routine.
The first thing we need to do when introducing the sheet is have empathy for the child who is resistant. Empathy allows us to look deeper, use our sensory goggles, and try to understand WHY the child is resisting.
If your child is resistant to using the compression sheet, try these tips to engage them:
Talk about what the sheet is for. Use positive verbiage. “This can help your body feel calm when you’re trying to fall asleep.”
Start small. Allow your child to explore the sheet before using it for bedtime. Take your time. Talk about how the material feels. Talk about how your child can move around under it.
Try using it when your child is happy and calm during the day. “Hey, let’s try out your sheet for 5 minutes while you’re reading!” This provides a positive association. Let them control when they want to stop using it for the moment.
Use the sheet during play activities. Play a hide and seek game. Make the blanket seem fun.
Once your child is comfortable with the sheet, start trialing it during the bedtime routine. “Let’s use your sheet while we read before bed.” Then talk about how it felt to use the sheet. “Did you feel calm or more silly when you were under the sheet?”
Try adding a picture of the sheet to the child’s visual schedule or daily routine schedule so they can see a picture of when they’re expected to use it.
Never force your child to use the compression sheet. It is meant to be a positive tool, not a negative consequence.
Don’t stress if your child seems to love the sheet one day but refuses it the next. Some days are better than others. Plus, as your child learns more about how their body feels, they may not need it every day/night.
Always make sure that the child can move independently in and out from the compression sheet.
TIPS FOR INCORPORATING THE COMPRESSION SHEET TO YOUR CHILD
Once your child is comfortable using the compression sheet, you can begin to incorporate it into their day and evening as needed - to help with anxiety, focus and attention, sleep, and overstimulation.
Try playing different games with the compression sheet. Hide and seek; push items through like a tunnel; etc.
Play pretend by tucking your child’s toys into the compression sheet. Role-playing challenging tasks (such as bedtime) can be beneficial. Talk about how the toys benefit from using the sheet, how they get great sleep and feel very rested the next day.
Have your child participate in putting the sheet on and taking it off the bed.
Use the compression sheet in a quiet sensory corner to provide deep touch pressure when needed for self-regulation.
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- Chenne Daig