It is estimated that 1 in 4 children will experience sleep difficulties at some point. Sleep problems are more common in children with additional needs such as ADHD and Autism.

Sleep problems can be categorised into three groups:

  1. Sleep settling issues – this is when your child takes a long time to get to sleep, as well as difficulties around co-sleeping (sharing a bed with parent/s).
  2. Night time awakening – This is when your child wakes a lot throughout the night.
  3. Early morning awakenings – waking early before 06:00.

Sleep hygiene – is a phrase used to describe a set of behavioural and environmental practices, which either helps us fall asleep or causes us to struggle when going to sleep.

  • This means keeping to a regular plan, aiming to get at least 6-9 hours of sleep every night. This is key to keeping a regular ‘circadian rhythm’ (our bodies natural sleep cycle). Sticking to going to bed at a regular time (even using an alarm at the weekend to make sure this plan is followed all the time), is VERY important.

  • Keeping a good pre bed routine is vital to help wind down at night time.
  • Keeping blue lights to a minimum. This means phone screens, T.V. screens, and computer screens. Blue light makes our body think it is still daytime and keeps us awake. Switching off screens an hour before bed helps the body wind down, relax and feel tired.
  • A bath can help to relax the body ready for sleep before bed, however a shower can wake the body up as it encourages more blood flow around the body making the sleep hormone (melatonin) not as effective.
  • Removing or covering up clutter (toys and games for example) making the bedroom a calm quiet space, where your child can relax and not be distracted, helping them to wind down to sleep.

  • Exercise can play a big part in your sleep plan. Aim to exercise at least 3 hours before you plan to sleep for around 30 minutes (morning or daytime exercise is best). DO NOT exercise close to bedtime as this will stop your body from winding down and relaxing ready for sleep
  • Exercising during the day can be really beneficial, helping with sleep. Research shows us that a healthy mind is related to exercising regularly, and a healthy mind can lead to healthy sleep.

  • What we put into our bodies effects how we sleep. Drinking fizzy caffeinated drinks can stop us from settling at night, affecting how well we sleep. Warm milk, fruits juices or water are best- avoid hot chocolate as it contains caffeine.
  • Going to sleep with a full stomach can also stop us sleeping properly, also going to sleep hungry can stop us getting a good night’s sleep too. A light supper about an hour before bed can help. Bananas, a small bowl of porridge, a small handful of almonds (No almonds if your child has a nut allergy) are all foods that can help with sleep.