Did I really just use that pun? My word! Humour is an important endorphin releaser, though in this case it's also a true strategy. Sleeping well before exams is a necessity. That's one tip, but how to get to a good night's sleep needs tips of it's own! Particularly if you are a worrier.
Preparation is key, but in the case of NAPLAN, my advice is to not overthink it. Thankfully the massive pressure put on the Year 9s for the ongoing effect of their results has been lessened. My children are primary school aged and both are undertaking NAPLAN this year. One teacher put it so beautifully: "We are not testing to see how you are doing, we are testing to see what we can do better in our teaching". I say THANK you to that teacher, and in this vein, feel the affirmations the children can say going to bed may include "I am helpful". I love this different approach, and the reduction in personal pressure.
A checklist may be helpful for a morning routine anyway, but especially if aiming to reduce anxiety on NAPLAN / exam mornings. Putting in everything, including cleaning teeth, brushing hair, lunchbox in bag - helps to reduce additional unnecessary thoughts.
Pre-packing the school bag and making lunches the night before take away from the massive rush that can ensue on any morning. Leaving out the school uniform, complete with socks and undies, and polished shoes, are part of the preparation. They can be ticked off the list already!
Worry dolls are a marvellous addition to the night-time routine. We have some home made (during a Relax Kids session) that fit snuggly into a dream-catcher pouch from the ever exciting Ishka fairtrade shop. Together, the worries and distracting dreams are taken care of. At least in theory (as with positive self talk, if you believe, you can achieve).
Preparing for sleep a few hours before includes ensuring devices are switched completely off by at latest 5pm. This enables the brain to have 'digesting' time and create natural melatonin for a good sleep. LED lights actually stimulate the brain into creating 'awake' waves for several hours after being viewed. Sleep is important for cleansing the brain of what can be thought .ukof as plaque. Without a good sleep, this builds up and can have affects on physical as well as mental health and wellbeing.
Diet is another contributing factor to a great sleep versus a disturbed, worried sleep. Cheese, chocolate, sugar drinks and sugary food all require digesting. As do many fruits. Unless you plan on a lengthy physical routine prior to bed, you really want to avoid the 'ready for action' feels and food, and opt instead for 'ready for sleep' milk, honey and nutmeg. Having dinner at a reasonably early time (around the time you switch off devices), enables a full 12 hour + processing / fasting period for the body. Helpful for sleep and good health. Having said all that, my son enjoys a bowl of cereal mid evening - I liken it to the 'tanking' feed I used to give him as a baby to get him through the night! In conflict to what I have written above, he gets comfort from this additional 'supper'.
A family board game, time reading the Relax Kids "Dream Machine pick-a-path" book, or reflecting on particular emotions in the Relax Kids "Monster Feelings Handbook" can all help to unwind...but know your child. Any unnecessary focus on a particular Monster Emotion may wind your child's worries up, rather than down. For others, this process is necessary for calming the protective amygdala. If in doubt, leave it out.
My mother used to tickle my back as a very special sleep-time addition. A back rub, a hand or foot massage, can really help settle a wound up, anxious body and mind. Not only is touch itself the benefiting factor, time spent completely one to one with no other purpose other than positively touching your child is a beautiful way to provide positive reinforcement - "I am here for you".
And finally, playing Relax Kids CD such as "Believe and Achieve", some quiet meditation music, or reading a visualisation for your child such as Sunset from Marneta Viegas' "The Wishing Star", in a calm and restful way, is like the warm blanket of comfort. Taking a few slow long breaths to calm heart and brain, I love you, and hopefully off to a happy, unconcerned sleep. The NAPLAN nap!