Tips to help children sleep better
Set up a bedtime routine – A regular bedtime routine starting around the same time each night encourages good sleep patterns. A bedtime routine of bath, story and bed can help younger children feel ready for sleep. For older children, the routine might include a quiet chat with you about the day then some time alone relaxing before lights out.
Relax before bedtime – Encourage your child to relax before bedtime. Older children might like to wind down by reading a book, listening to gentle music or practising breathing for relaxation. If your child takes longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, your child might need a longer wind-down time before turning the lights out to go to sleep.
Keep regular sleep and wake times – Keep your child’s bedtimes and wake-up times within 1-2 hours of each other each day. This helps to keep your child’s body clock in a regular pattern. It’s a good idea for weekends and holidays, as well as school days.
Make sure your child feels safe at night – If your child feels scared about going to bed or being in the dark, you can praise and reward your child whenever they’re brave. Avoiding scary TV shows, movies and computer games can help too. Some children with bedtime fears feel better when they have a night light.
Check noise and light in your child’s bedroom – Check whether your child’s bedroom is too light or noisy for sleep. Blue light from televisions, computer screens, phones and tablets suppresses melatonin levels and delays sleepiness. It helps to turn off devices at least one hour before bedtime, keep screens out of your child’s room at night, If your child uses a night-light, choose a dim, warm-coloured globe, rather than a bright, white, cool-coloured globe.
Eat the right amount at the right time – Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make your child more alert or uncomfortable. This can make it harder for your child to get to sleep. In the morning, a healthy breakfast helps to kick-start your child’s body clock at the right time.
Get plenty of natural light in the day – Encourage your child to get as much natural light as possible during the day, especially in the morning. Bright light suppresses melatonin. This helps your child feel awake and alert during the day and sleepy towards bedtime.
Avoid caffeine – Caffeine is in energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate and cola. Encourage your child to avoid these things in the late afternoon and evening, and don’t offer them at these times.