Dr Richard Graham and Dr Elly Hanson explain how to teach your children about healthier night-time routines at a younger age to prepare them for later life.


Age 5-7

Most of us will have hated bedtime as children, when we had to leave our parents or some exciting event to get the sleep we needed. But as adults, we now know we really do need sleep. It’s important for learning and behaviour, growth and mental wellbeing. A lack of sleep can affect growth, and when a sleep problem is resolved, a growth spurt can occur.


What can you do?


X Avoid high stimulation activities such as TV, video games or social media for at least an hour before bedtime.

✓Establish a regular evening routine, reading to younger children or encouraging them to read.

X No caffeine or fizzy drinks during the evening.

✓Listen to relaxing music and have them take a bath or shower before bed.


Dr Richard Graham is a Consultant Psychiatrist with an expertise in technology addiction


Age 11-16

Adolescents have a different sleep/wake cycle to younger children and adults, preferring later bedtimes and wake times. However, if scrolling through phones or watching videos at night, the light from these devices can disrupt the body’s natural wind-down to sleep, creating bodily confusion about whether it is night or day.


What can you do?


X Let teens lie in as much as possible – but avoid a huge difference between weekdays and weekends. ✓Later evenings should be spent in lower light, avoiding devices as much as possible closer to bedtimes. X Devices should be kept out of bedrooms at night.

✓Speak to like-minded parents in your child’s social circles to agree a rough consensus around bedtime rules – this can help to avoid frustration and arguments.


Dr Elly Hanson is a Clinical Psychologist with expertise in children, young people and digital technology.


This article was originally written in partnership with Parent Zone.