Kids having trouble getting off to sleep? Dinosnores could be just the answer! Guest interview with their creator Sherene Alfreds

Kids have trouble getting off to sleep or aren't very rested when they wake up? Dinosnores could be just what you are looking for!

Dinosnores are sleepy stories using guided relaxation and visualisation to help kids sleep and have won America's Creative Child CD of the Year 2011 and 2012. Featuring 9 sleepy story CDs.
Q Where did the inspiration for the Dinosnores come from?

 Like so many good things, inspiration for Dinosnores came from experience.  My own daughter, Emma, found it difficult to sleep during her preschool and kindergarten years.  So I combined my love of relaxation and my training as a speech pathologist with her interests (dinosaurs) to create imaginative relaxation stories to help her sleep.  Dinosnores sleepy stories was born.  And it gave me back my nights to read and relax (and now work!) after a busy day.

Q What is it about Dinosnores that sets it apart from other bedtime stories?

Four main things set us apart.
1. Each story CD runs for a full hour (the final half our CDs are natural soundscapes without spoken stories), helping to make sure children stay settled after falling asleep.
2. Calming natural soundscapes evoke an imaginary world, as well as masking distracting household noise
3. The stories have been scripted using my background in speech pathology to build language and listening skills.  Slow rates of speech, repetition, and learning themes, encourage children to listen with understanding and learn about the natural world.
4.    Teach relaxation and visualisation techniques to children

Q They go for an hour, what made you decide to make them go for that long and do you find this helps?

If children are light sleepers, they wake easily to the sound of household and neighborhood noise.  By lasting a full hour our CDs mask household noise.  Parents can stack the dishwasher, leave the washing machine on, or relax and watch television.  On New Years Eve I run  our CDs on repeat all night, so that my kids are less likely to wake to boisterous party noise in the neighborhood.

Q How important is relaxation and breathing to a good nights sleep?

It’s essential!  Relaxation and focusing on breathing helps children calm their busy minds as well as distracting from bedtime fears.   Bringing the mind inward, using breath, is central to both yoga and meditation.  And in recent years it has also been established in the medical literature as benefiting mental and physical health.

Just this year, a Lancet Medical Journal review reported that the best way to cure insomnia, and bring on sleep, is not medication - but to change bedtime behaviour.  Specifically they identified use of relaxation techniques, good sleep hygiene and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

So the evidence that relaxation helps people sleep is strong.  We just need to learn the skills.  Fortunately, children are so fast to learn relaxation skills that parents report our sleepy stories get their kids to sleep the very first time they listen!

Q What exactly is good sleep hygiene?

Good sleep hygiene involves having a regular bedtime, calming bedtime routine and regular waking time.  Good sleep routines allow our bodies can then anticipate and wind down ready to sleep.  We also need a dark, warm, comfortable room to sleep - used only for sleep and not for television, computers or rough and tumble play.  Finally, to help sleep at night we need to get enough exercise and outdoors sunshine during the day.

Q And the stories can help build language skills too?

All stories help build language skills.  But Dinosnores sleepy stories are particularly good at building language skills as they have themed vocabulary.  Like our computers, human brain like to store related words and topics together.  So each new word a child learns is best learnt with other related words.  This encourages them to develop neural pathways connecting all related words.  It helps them recall and use these new word themselves.  By providing a story with themed vocabulary we are enabling children to develop strong neural connections between related words, while children enjoy an imaginative story.  Also by using a repetition and a slow but normal (as opposed to more rapid) rate of speech, children are allowed more processing time to listen with understanding to both the words and sentence structures.

But as fabulous as our sleepy stories are, they don't replace the bedtime story with a parent.  That shared time, and attention cannot be replaced.  But our CDs do give parents a good exit line “Of course you can have one more story darling - I’ll just put on your sleepy story CD for you.”

Q How much difference to you think a good night’s sleep makes to both the children and their parents?

Just enormous - and recent Australian research supports this.  This year the Australian Murdoch Children's Research Institute found that 38.7% Australian kindergarten children have sleeping problems and that child sleep problems were associated with poorer child and parent mental health. 

 I personally found it very difficult when my then three year old daughter was having trouble sleeping at night.  It was so draining!  My daughter would be grumpy and irritable.  I knew it was largely because she wasn’t getting enough sleep - but the bedtime routine alone was not working.  I felt worn out because I had no time to myself to recharge - even at night, plus I was pregnant!  It was a very difficult time.  I looked for child relaxation CDs but none appealed to my to my daughter or me.  So I started developing my own stories, and mixing them together with relaxing soundscapes.  I got my nights back to myself and the rest is history!

Sherene Alfreds is mother to one 7 year old tom-boy and a lego obsessed 4 year old boy.  Trained as a speech pathologist, she now uses or professional and personal experience to create Dinosnores sleepy stories.  Her sleepy stories have won Creative Child Seals of Excellence, CD of the Year 2011 and 2012, are recommended by psychologists and loved by children!
You can listen to her stories at or follow Dinosnores sleepy stories on FACEBOOK - make sure you say HI and let her know you found about her through the blog,

Rebecca xx


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