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For a lot of parents getting their child into a good bedtime routine may be an issue. There could be many reasons why your child doesn’t feel ready to sleep when you want them too. Hopefully we can provide some insight as to why your child doesn’t want to sleep and how to support them.


Why is sleep important?


Sleep is very important as it allows the body to rest, repair and process the information received during the day. Here are just some of the benefits of a good night sleep;


  • Helps children regulate emotions

  • Helps the children’s general mood

  • Helps children to stay mentally alert

  • Allows the brain to process what has happened during the day

  • Supports the immune system, repairs the body and helps growth

  • Allows our short term brain to function better

Unfortunately, for various reasons, not every child is able to have adequate restful sleep. This will then impact the child in a negative way, some of which are below;


  • Can cause children to become hyperactive or hyper-vigilant

  • Children may struggle with maintaining relationships

  • Children are more likely to be involved in more arguments

  • Children are more likely to experience increased anxiety

  • Impairs children’s cognitive ability

  • Children may have the inability to cope with demands from others


Sleep cycle


We all have our own sleep cycle and as adults we may wake in the night and are able to roll over and go back to sleep. This is because as adults we have learnt how to self soothe and are not alarmed by waking. This behaviour is learnt over time and with the support from parents children will learn to do this too.

Every person/child's sleep cycle is different depending on the environment they live in and their health needs. Below is a typical 8 hour sleep cycle;

As you can see, a typical person is not in deep sleep for long. During a 2 hour period, the sleeping person will go back up through the stages of sleep to REM. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is where we are in a lighter sleep and should there be a change in the environment, such as a light turning off or a toilet being flushed, we will wake up.


What can stop a good night's sleep?


There are many reasons why a child may not be able to settle or fall asleep. Some of which are listed below;


  • Environment changes e.g the child may have gone to sleep with the light on but wakes and it is dark

  • The temperature may be too hot or too cold

  • They may be thinking of worries or fears

  • Low melatonin levels - Melatonin is a hormone that our brain makes, it induces sleep. Some conditions mean that this hormone is not being produced effectively

  • Changes to routine

  • Feeling unwell


Recommended Resources

Click on the logo to access the website or resource



A charity that provides support to families with children that have sleep issues. They primarily work with families whose children live with a brain condition, however their sleep tips and support are great.


Rapid Return
Gradual Retreat

The Children's Sleep Charity


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