Wind down for sleep time

 Following on from last weeks blog post on regulation ideas for the car, we thought some may find some ideas around sleep useful! Always a heated topic around the office at OTFC!

How sensory regulation impacts a child’s ability to sleep?

If a child experiences difficulty regulating themselves, it can lead to them not getting the required sleep of approximately 10 to 12 hours each night (Tso et al, 2016). The child may find it difficult to reach a state of calmness that will help them get to sleep as they find it harder to ignore noises or the feel of sheets on them (Johnson & McMahon, 2008).

Why is sleep so important for children?

  • Helps with child’s memory and supports learning of new skills.
  • Helps the child perform everyday life activities.
  • Strengthens child’s immune system.
  • Child’s response to lack of sleep can impact caregivers’ wellbeing as it is harder to manage behaviours.

Why is it important for children to wind down before bedtime?

Winding down helps gradually prepare a child for bed and lower their arousal level to a state of calmness to help them sleep.

Strategies to support winding down before bedtime.

Please keep in mind every child is different and has different needs. Sometimes strategies may be more useful than others and some might work on one occasion and not help on another.

What can be performed earlier in the day to help wind down for bedtime? How does this help winding down?
Playing outside/exercise/sports. Uses up energy to help lead to lower arousal.
Trampoline/jumping on to crash mat. Deep pressure.Manage arousal levels.
Squashing fitball on child. Deep pressure.
What strategies wind down children before bedtime? How does this help winding down?
No screen time two hours before bed. Gradually calms children down.Reduces the sensory input child is taking in.
Dimming lights in lead up to bed. Signifies bedtime soon for the child.Gradually calms child.
Avoid homework half an hour bed. Prevents the association of bed with thinking.
Move out of living room half an hour before bedtime. Signifies bedtime soon for the child.
Give child transition objects for going to bed such as blanket, music box or teddy. Objects help calm the child.Objects signifies bedtime for child.
Reading a book. Helps support learning.Calms the child down following screen time.
Turning on calming music as child prepares for bed. Signifies bedtime soon for the child.Gradually calms child.


Johnson, N & McMahon, C 2008, ‘Preschoolers sleep behaviour: Associations with parental hardiness, sleep-related cognitions and bedtime interactions,’ Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 49, no. 7, pp. 765-773.

Tso, W, Rao, N, Jiang, F, Li, AM, Lee, S, Ho, FK, Li, SL & Ip, P 2016, ‘Sleep duration and school readiness of Chinese preschool children,’ The Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 169, pp. 266-271.


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