Establish bedtime rules and state what you expect. Choose a time for your child to get ready for bed and make it clear what time lights are out.
Teenagers may be able to handle more flexibility about bedtime.
Promote wind down time – limit screen time, even TV as this delays sleep in children – no screens for at least an hour before bedtime. Also no news or scary stories.
Problem solve together if your child refuses to stay in their own bed. Talk about the reasons, any fears and give ideas to self-soothe when they are alone in bed and it is quiet.
If you allow your child to sleep with you on some nights and return them to bed on the others, the behaviour won’t change. If a child thinks there is a slim chance that you’ll give in they will try their luck. You need to be consistent.
Older children may benefit from simple rewards such as extra computer/TV time etc. when it is not near bedtime of course!
You could try a token system – earning one for staying in bed all night or getting into bed on time. Tokens can be exchanged later for larger rewards.
10 and 11 year olds need 9-10 hours sleep per night.
Create a nice environment for them so they enjoy being in their bedroom – dark room, comfortable, uncluttered, safe and quiet.
Encourage regular exercise - even 20 minutes three times a week will help.
Further information can be found at
Children’s Sleep Charity – www.thechildrenssleepcharity.org.uk
Enuresis Resource and Information centre (bedwetting)
www.eric.org.uk Tel: 0845 3708008
Lullaby Trust – www.lullabytrust.org.uk Tel: 0808 802 6869
Time for bed
This booklet is for you to read through with your child. It might offer some ideas about how you can all get some more precious sleep zzzzzzzzzzz
You must be really busy going to school, clubs and wearing everybody out! By the end of the day your brain and body will be really tired. You need sleep to allow you to get ready for the next day. Did you know that you need sleep so that your body can grow and you can feel happier?
What time do you go to bed? Now be honest, what time do you actually go to sleep? Count up how many hours it was until you woke up. Did you know that children need about 10 or 11 hours of sleep? That is a lot of sleep. Sleep gives your body and brain a chance to rest and prepare for the next day, so are you getting enough?
It can be hard to give in and go to bed. There is so much to play with and there is the T.V. and computer as well. Life can feel too exciting to waste it asleep, but if you don’t get enough sleep you feel tired and grumpy. When you are tired it’s hard to be kind to people and it is hard to join in and have fun. When you don’t get enough sleep it is difficult to follow instructions and listen properly. Sleep helps you to remember what you have learnt, solve problems and think of new ideas; without sleep you won’t be able to do your best at school. You could get more annoyed and have arguments with your friends, parents or teachers because you are tired. If you play sport or an instrument you will find it harder to get things right because your brain is tired. Adults often act really sluggishly when they are tired, but children can act like they are bouncing around and can’t be stopped! Sleep can help you calm down at home and in the classroom.
Feeling scared about dreams and being alone in the dark is one of the main reasons children have trouble falling asleep. Sometimes you can have nightmares because you are worried about things. Things at home might have changed, or you could have lots to do at school and be worried about keeping up. Maybe you have been watching T.V or films that are too scary. If you have dreams that are stopping you sleep then talk about them to an adult you trust, everyone has nightmares, and will know how scary they can be. Remember that talking about them can make the worry or dream not seem so big. You could put pictures of your family, pets or favourite place up by your bed so that you can see them when you are scared. Try squeezing your muscles up tight and then relax down into your bed. Breath slowly in and out with your eyes shut while you think about your favourite people or memory as you drift off to zzzzzzzzzzz.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and at a time that will give you enough hours sleep.
A routine helps your body get ready to sleep, for example you could always read a book or have a bath before getting into bed.
If you are going to have a sleep over or a late night, do it on Friday so your body has enough time to catch up on sleep and get back into a routine for school on Monday
Don’t drink fizzy drinks or eat food that has caffeine (like chocolate) before you go to bed.
Don’t have a T.V in your room or make sure an adult always checks that it is turned off when it is time for you to sleep. It is too easy to watch stuff you shouldn’t see, or to think “I’ll just watch one more programme”.
Don’t watch films, T.V or play games that are too old or too scary for you. Be brave enough to say, “I think this will scare me, I am going to do something else”. Don’t worry about what your friends say, you are doing the grown up thing by choosing to turn the power button off.
Make sure you are getting enough exercise in the day so that your body is tired.
Use your bed just for sleeping, not for homework, using a laptop, reading, playing or talking on the phone. That way your body will be trained just for sleep when you get into bed.
Have a clean and tidy bed and bedroom. It is hard to sleep when you have to fight your way under the covers.
If you feel too hot, cold or hungry you won’t get as much sleep as you should. If you don’t have somewhere nice to sleep, you might be able to get help – talk to an adult at school about it.
Sleep in a room as dark as you can get it; have a night-light on if you don’t like the dark, but turn the main light off. Even the light from a computer screen or T.V can make it harder to fall asleep.
If you have a lot of stuff buzzing about your head, try writing in a diary before you go to sleep or draw a picture.
If your house is really noisy, try asking everyone to be a bit quieter, or maybe use earplugs!
There are things in our lives that we can’t control, and those things can keep us awake. Try listing all of the people who are there for you to talk to. That way you will feel more in charge.
Remember that getting enough sleep means that you can have fun the next day!