Sleep Advice for Children with Additional Needs

Please see information below that may provide support for your needs.

If further support is required please talk to your Health Visitor, School Health Nurse, or GP in the first instance.



A sleep routine may be difficult to implement during the following; holidays, life events, illness, or transitions to school/nursery.

Completing a sleep diary may be useful.

Be kind to yourself, start when you are ready.

Be aware that this maybe a lengthy process, particularly if your child has always been a poor sleeper.

If your child has anxieties and worries, please seek additional support.

If your child snores every night, please discuss this with your GP

Consider what time your child needs to be awake in the morning.

Children need between 8-12 hours of sleep depending on their age.

Avoid daytime napping after 3pm.


Visual and social timetables may be useful.

Teach  your child the difference between night and day.

Create a calm and relaxing bedtime routine, preferably 1 hour before bedtime, The Golden Hour.

Lego, colouring, stories or play-dough are preferred activities.

Children should be in bed before falling asleep.

Avoid taking children back to the living room once they have been settled into bed.

Some children respond well to a reward system.


All care givers need to be on board and following the same routine.

The routine needs to be followed on weekdays, weekends and holidays.

If there is an unavoidable disruption, return to the routine as soon as  possible.

The same sequence of events should happen every night.


Set the scene before going to bed

You may need to teach your child the difference between being loud and being quiet.

Use white noise (calming background noise) or other sounds to block out external noises.

Declutter bedrooms, box up toys.

Use massage to help your child fall asleep.

Avoid sending children to the bedroom as a punishment.

Use minimal lighting and blackout blinds.

Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature.



Offer a bed time snack consisting of sleep foods such as;  porridge,

bananas, milk, honey, peanut butter, wholemeal bread, pasta,

cherries and turkey.

Avoid fizzy drinks, caffeine and sugary snacks.


Bath or shower your child if it relaxes them. If bath time upsets

your child do it earlier in the evening.


Avoid using TV’s, I pads, tablets, phones and games consoles in the

hour before and during the bedtime


Speak in a calm and quiet voice during the bedtime routine.


Avoid noisy or stimulating play one hour before bed.




Gradual Withdrawal

Suitable for all children including those with increased anxiety or children who have never been left to sleep alone in their own bed.

Teaches your child to settle independently & self soothe. This should cause minimal  distress if done with a consistent approach.

Sit next to the bed on a cushion/stool. Tell your child it’s bedtime and give a kiss   goodnight. Then, do not speak to them and avoid eye contact. Stay in the room for ten minutes after they fall asleep. Repeat each time they wake.

Week 2: Move the cushion/stool away from the bed slightly and repeat.

Week 3: Move to the middle of the room.

Week 4: Move to the door of the room.

Week 5: Sit outside the door.


Rapid Return


Suitable for children who will initially settle in their own bed. NB, this method is not suitable for     children with anxiety or those who cannot be left whilst awake.

Gives your child the clear message  they need to be in bed and will be returned to bed every time they get up during the night.

Each time your child gets out of bed, quickly and calmly return them to bed. Repeat the same goodnight message, after this do not speak to your child and avoid giving eye contact.

Repeat each time your child gets out of bed.

If your child is getting out of bed repeatedly you may need to stay out of sight but remain close by to enable a prompt response.




A useful resource from Cerebra the national charity  who help children with brain conditions and their families discover a better life together can be accessed here.
You will find some helpful "Sleep Right" Pod Casts from Scope, a leading charity for children with disabiities here



Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

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