Sleep is important as it gives our bodies a chance to rest and recuperate.

Many studies have shown the health benefits for children of getting adequate sleep including improved behaviour, memory, attention, learning and general overall good mental and physical health.

Conversely, children who do not get enough sleep may be susceptible to obesity, high blood pressure and even depression, as well as irritability and moodiness. They may display poor concentration skills, be easily distracted and have difficulties remembering things, all of which may influence their ability to function in school.

“How much sleep should my child get every day?”

The following are guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Babies (less than 1 year old) 12 – 16 hours a day
Toddlers (1-2 year olds) 11 – 14 hours a day
Pre-schoolers (3-5 year olds) 10 – 13 hours a day
6-12 year olds 9 – 12 hours a day
Teenagers 8 – 10 hours a day


For any child, it is important to establish a consistent bedtime routine, but for children who struggle to fall asleep it is particularly crucial.  Our previous webpost,, outlines the importance of bedtime routines.

  • Stop all screen time/electronic devices an hour before bed.
  • Have a warm bath/shower
  • Limit caffeine (e.g. fizzy drinks, chocolate, chocolate milk etc ) in the evenings
  • Dim the lights in the bedroom
  • Do a quiet activity before bed (reading, drawing, writing in a journal etc)


Here are some practical tips to help your child fall and stay asleep.



1.     Child is afraid to sleep in their room alone. Encourage your child to choose a favourite toy to keep them company while they sleep.
2.     Child finds it difficult to fall asleep due to restlessness or high arousal levels. Use deep pressure techniques to help your child to calm down. This can include any of the following strategies:

  • Heavy quilt/ weighted blanket for sleeping
  • Use spandex pyjamas or a spandex sheet to help provide additional deep touch pressure. Or tuck sheets in tightly over the bed so that your child has to wriggle into bed. This will provide additional deep touch and has a  calming effect.
  • Position the bed against a wall , so that your child can lay and squish against it to gain additional deep pressure input or have big soft toys/ pillows in bed with your child to provide additional pressure.

3.     Child finds it difficult to fall asleep due to the feel of their pyjamas or bedding.


  • Use 100% cotton bedding if possible and wash the bedding a few times before use so that it softens.
  • Make sure that your child’s pyjamas are soft and remove any tags or labels that may bother them. Use seamless underwear and socks if seams bother your child.
4.     Child wakes up during the night
  • Provide deep pressure massage/ touch and begin to lighten it as your child starts to fall asleep.
  • If your child comes through to your bedroom, walk them back quietly without saying too much and do the above to help them settle. Sometimes just a hand on their arm or back will help them to settle.