Four expert tips to ensure your children get a good night’s sleep

Do you struggle with getting your children to sleep at night? A paediatric sleep consultant shares four expert tips that should help.

According to research, between 20-30% of children have difficulties sleeping. To you parents get your children to bed and ensure a good night’s sleep before school, Explore Learning has teamed up with Chelsey Borson, a paediatric sleep consultant and founder of sleep coaching service Luna Leaps.

Chelsey has helped numerous parents improve their children’s sleep habits and establish healthy bedtime routines. The effects of disturbed sleep can have a huge impact on school and learning, with long-term effects including impaired immune function and mental health issues.

A lack of sleep in children can have a profound impact on their school day and long-term health. Sleep deprivation can lead to difficulties with attention, memory, learning, and behaviour, making it harder for children to perform well academically.

In the worst cases, chronic sleep deprivation in children has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, mental health issues, and impaired immune function.

Four expert tips to ensure your children get a good night’s sleep

To ensure a productive day at school, especially as the clocks change, Chelsey recommends following these top four tips.

1) Start early to tackle the clock change

Daylight saving time changes can impact kids’ sleep patterns, affecting how ready they feel for school the following week. Take action the week before the clocks change to ensure your kids have a smooth transition. Chelsey suggests:

With the time change approaching, one top tip is gradually adjusting the bedtime routine. By moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night leading up to the time change, parents can help their children’s internal clocks adjust gradually and minimise the impact of losing an hour of sleep.

2) Watch out for secret bedtime saboteurs

While most parents understand screens impact sleep, certain drinks and foods can also have an unexpected impact. If your family is a fan of fizzy caffeinated drinks, heavy meals or anything spicy, this could have a knock-on effect on bedtime.

In addition to the usual factors that impact sleep in children, such as screen time and inconsistent routines, there are unexpected things that could be affecting children’s sleep patterns. For instance, certain foods and beverages can interfere with sleep, especially if consumed close to bedtime. Sugary or caffeinated drinks, as well as heavy or spicy foods, can stimulate the body and make it difficult for children to fall asleep.

3) Stick to the ideal bedtime for their age 

Understanding the optimal, age-appropriate bedtime for children is essential to ensure they’re getting the rest they need to perform at school.

As general guidance, for younger primary school-aged children, waking up around 7am, a bedtime of around 8-9pm would provide enough sleep. For secondary school-aged children, a bedtime between 9-11pm would be more suitable.

Here are the recommend bedtimes for specific age ranges:

  • 5-6 years old: 7-8:30pm
  • 7-8 years old: 7:30-9pm
  • 9-10 years old: 8-9:30pm
  • 11-12 years old: 8:30-10pm
  • 13-14 years old: 9-10:30pm
  • 15-16 years old: 9:30-11pm

This information is guidance only. Individual sleep needs may vary, and it’s important to consider factors like the child’s individual sleep patterns and their overall well-being when determining their specific bedtime.

4) Keep the bedtime routine consistent

Sticking to a set routine is key, as it helps signal to children on a conscious and unconscious level that it’s time to wind down and sleep.

Research shows that consistent bedtime routines play a critical role in promoting better sleep for children. Children with regular bedtime routines experience improved sleep quality and fewer sleep problems compared to those without consistent routines.

Establishing a predictable routine signals to children’s bodies that it’s time to sleep, making it easier for them to wind down and fall asleep.

A good night’s sleep is essential for children

Sleep is the foundation for successful learning. It’s not just about physical rest; it’s about having time to recharge mentally, too.

When children get a good night’s sleep, their brains are gearing up for optimal cognitive function and emotional regulation during the school day. A good night’s sleep paves the way for focused learning, creative ideas, and the problem-solving skills needed to thrive in the classroom. 

Read more parenting sleep tips

Need more help getting your children to sleep at night? You’ll find further advice in these articles: