Sleep

Sleep is vital for children’s physical and mental health. It is necessary for growth, healing/repairing and immune function as well as for attention, learning, memory and mood. Many simple steps help to improve children’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep including:

  • Ensuring children are active during the day so they exert enough energy to feel tired towards the end of the day
  • Foster a positive connection with the child’s bedroom – try to spend time doing fun activities, play, reading etc so children feel their room is a safe and pleasant space
  • Minimise caffeine especially towards the end of the day
  • Routine – develop a general set of events/tasks which are predictable and help prepare children for bedtime
  • End the day with enjoyable quiet time – technology of any sort should be switched off 1 hour prior to bedtime to help children’s brains ‘switch off’
  • No electronic devices in the bedroom – minimise distractions
  • Wonderful overview of sleep – A Parent’s Guide (for 0-6) by Parenting South Australia
  • General tips to improve sleep in children may be found at the sleep health foundation

Information & assistance for children’s sleep as per age:

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute podcasts – all aspects of paediatric sleep & managing challenges

The most common sleep problem in children is caused by the way they behave – behavioural sleep problems.

Sleep training methods & strategies – a practical guide to improve sleep in children by Paediatric sleep physician Dr Craig Canapari

Other night-time events: nightmares, night terrrors, bedwetting, snoring

Autism & sleep – children with autism have a higher chance of sleep difficulties – handout; exploring sleep in ASD; resources to help

Anxiety can often arise at bedtime when children think about the day gone by. The worry may become so significant that drifting off to sleep becomes even more challenging. Using calming techniques or the free Smiling Mind App.

Melatonin is occasionally used to help children being able to go to sleep but importantly this is not a substitute for a good bedtime routine and implementation of appropriate sleep hygiene practices.