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Sleep and your child

Sleep is so important for all our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. 

Sleep problems can be more common and complex if a child or young person has a learning disability.

The sections below provide tips on how to improve your child's sleep routine and give links to videos and books for further advice and information. 

  • Do the same thing every night, so the body knows when it is time to wind down for sleep
  • Have blackout blinds and wake the child at the same time each morning to establish a routine
  • Prepare for bedtime by keeping the lights low and the temperature cool
  • Have a glass of milk before bed: it can help the body produce melatonin, a sleep hormone
  • If the child is struggling to sleep, try some breathing exercises or read a book
  • Try to get plenty of fresh air and exercise during the day
  •  Avoid stimulating activities such as watching television or looking at electronic screens in the hour before bedtime
  • Try keeping the child’s room free from distractions such as noisy toys, or toys on the bed or floor
  • If a night light is used it needs to stay on all night, as the child will expect it to be on if they wake up


Watch Dr Ranj's video about why you need good sleep (for children)

Watch Elmo's sleep routine video (for children)



  • What To Do When You Dread Your Bed Dawn Huebner (Magination Press 2008)
  • The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin (Ladybird 2015)
  • The Little Elephant Who Wants To Fall Asleep Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin (Ladybird 2016) Book lists from The Scottish Book Tru
  • Whiffy Wilson, the Wolf who wouldn’t go to Bed by Caryl Hart and Leonie Lord – ideal book for parents to share with children who are about to commence a sleep programme. 
  • The Invisible String Workbook – activities for children to help with separation anxiety.
  • World Stories – bedtime stories in a number of different languages

If you and/or your children are scared, frightened, being controlled or hurt by someone you know or live with please contact:

In an emergency, call 999.

Visit the Healthy Surrey website for advice, advocacy, practical help and support.

If you would like help with your child's sleep routine, please contact your Specialist School Nurse.