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It's Bedtime

Family life has changed a lot recently and one way to maintain a sense of normality is to keep to a regular sleep routine. This will help everyone's mental and physical health during these unsettling times.

Children need sleep to help them grow and develop healthily, and not getting enough can be another factor in them becoming overweight as they get older. Also, too much screen time – whether on TV, games consoles, smartphones or tablets will impact on children’s sleep patterns and length of sleep.

Keeping to a regular bedtime routine for your children can be difficult, but it will help improve children's sleep. Our advice is to decide a bedtime routine that suits you and your child and try to stick to it –  it helps our body clocks develop into their natural, regular rhythm. 

Here are some other tips to help you set a good bedtime routine:

Have a regular routine for bedtime

  • Having wind-down time (at least 40 minutes) is really important in getting ready for bed, as it helps you all to relax in the evening, so plan ahead. Avoid physical activity during this time. Fit in plenty of activity earlier in the day so that children are physically tired
  • Try to have your main meals two hours before bedtime - some active kids may need a small snack before bed-time too
  • A warm bath can help relax children and help them get ready for rest
  • For younger children, read a story with them or listen to some gentle music
  • For older children, read a book or magazine


Dr Fiona Healy, Consultant General & Respiratory Paediatrician, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital explains how to set up a good bedtime routine for different aged kids.

Make bedtime screen-free time

  • Devices like TVs, laptops, games consoles, tablets and smartphones affect children’s sleep habits – get in the habit of turning them off at least one hour before bedtime
  • Keep all electronic devices elsewhere; your child’s room should be a calm, relaxing place
  • If your children watch some TV before bedtime, choose something that is calm and relaxing

Create a sleep-friendly environment

  • Having a bedroom that’s sleep-friendly can really help – so have it dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Thick curtains or a blackout blind can help with any outside light during the summer months. Just make sure they are installed safely.
  • And a comfortable mattress and bed helps too – it all adds to having an environment that’s sleep-friendly


Dr John Sharry, psychologist and parenting expert, explains how TVs, mobiles and computers in children's bedrooms can effect the ease of falling asleep.

Aim to get enough sleep for your child’s age

Children of different age need different amounts of sleep and while there are no exact amounts, in general, children aged between 5 and 12 need at least 10 hours of sleep - this of course can vary between children. Aim for:

  • 11 - 12 hours at night, plus a daytime rest of up to 1hr for 3 - 5 year olds
  • 10+ hours for over 5 year olds
  • 8 - 9 hours at night for over 12 year olds and teenagers

For babies and toddlers

  • About 6 months old    10-11 hours at night plus 3 daytime naps (approx. 1.5 - 2hrs for 2 of the naps)
  • About 9 months old    10-12 hours at night plus 2 daytime naps (approx. 1.5 - 2hrs)
  • About 1 years             10-12 hours at night plus 2 daytime naps (approx. 1 - 2hrs)
  • About 2 years             10-12 hours at night plus 1 daytime nap (approx. 1.5 - 2hrs)


© The Food Safety Promotion Board