Pillowcase Activity for Better Sleep

girl hugging pillow

A mindfulness activity designed to help kids and adolescents suffering from nightmares or other sleep issues.

Thoughts and moods before bedtime have shown to have an impact on quality of sleep. According to Huffington Post, if you think about what you are grateful for or think about relaxing things, you’ll have a greater chance of achieving sound sleep rather than ruminating on the past.

Clients are instructed that they may include anything they want on the pillowcase- as long as it brings them peace, relaxation, and/or joy. Examples can include: support systems, favorite hobbies, favorite vacation spots, pets, etc. Clients can reflect on these things before bed or upon waking from a bad dream, and to use in tandem with breathing exercises.

Materials needed:

  • Blank Pillow Case (preferably white)
  • Assorted colored Sharpies (or fabric markers)
  • Wax paper (or other paper to prevent ink bleeding through)


(Recommended): Before beginning the activity, discuss with the child age-appropriate mindfulness or breathing exercises. Show the child how to breathe deeply through the stomach. Have the client relax his/her whole body and notice how it feels to be grounded and sitting in the chair. On each inhale think, “I am…” and with exhale, “relaxed”. Repeat for a few minutes.

Step One: Brainstorming

Have the child come up with a list of things that he/she says to him/herself to help calm down and relax.  It may be helpful to provide a list of positive phrases the child can choose from if the child is having a hard time coming up with any. Have the child also think of relaxing images, symbols, and memories.

Keep this list nearby so clients can easily reference it.

Step Two: Drawing

Explain to the client that when he or she can’t sleep or wakes up and has a hard time falling back asleep, that he/she can look at (or think about) the pillowcase and be reminded of peaceful, relaxing images, symbols, and words. Then allow the client as much time as needed to complete the pillowcase.

Step Three: Conclusion

Ask the child if he/she would like to talk about his/her pillowcase. Have the child review deep-breathing methods. Allow the child to share (if willing) the pillowcase with his/her guardian(s) and sibling(s) and explain the purpose of the pillowcase. This helps reinforce the mindfulness concept of the pillowcase to the child.

Note to guardian: Put pillowcase in dryer to set the ink before washing.


For more sleep-promoting activities, check out the dream catcher craft!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Rose LaPiere

    love this! great idea to promote sleep.

  2. Rachel Full Cup

    This is a great idea! I will be sharing with parents for sure. Sleep is so important.

    1. Laura

      Thanks Rachel, so glad you found it useful!

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