Many of us remember having a strict bedtime checklist when we were children: brush your teeth, read a bedtime story, and lights off at eight. As we compete more and more with distracting screens and busy schedules, the idea of such a tight routine can feel like an impossible feat most nights! But research proves the positive impact that a simple, consistent routine before sleep has on children’s health and well-being—both short- and long-term. Looking at phones or eating sugary snacks before bed can make it harder to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.

A bad night’s sleep can manifest during the day some behavioral problems like restlessness and moodiness. It can also falsely increase your kids’ appetite and affect their ability to concentrate and pay attention at school.

Many people may not know that the optimal amount of sleep is about ten to thirteen hours for three- to five-year-olds, nine to eleven hours for six- to thirteen-year-olds, and eight to ten hours for teens.

Research from YouGovGalaxy found that more than two-thirds of parents (sixty-eight percent) say their child’s school performance is affected when they don’t have enough sleep.

In fact, the team from the University of Notre Dame, Australia, found that almost half (forty-three percent) of all children regularly use screen-based devices at bedtime, with one in four (twenty-six percent) reporting sleep problems as a result.

The good news is that working out a healthy sleep schedule doesn’t have to interfere with your complex lives. Getting that routine nailed down will help your little ones (and you!) live their big lives with as much energy as possible.1


Make bedtime fun. Try adding fun yet relaxing activities before bedtime, like reading a bedtime story or writing together in a journal. For older kids, writing in a diary before bed can help shake any anxiety that might keep them up.

Create restful bedrooms. Help your child connect their room with “restfulness” by making them electronic-free zones. Remove devices like phones, TVs, and tablets and as much clutter as possible on and around the bed. It also helps to keep the room dark and at a comfortable temperature—18°C to 22°C is best for kids at night.

Switch off stimulants. Power down as a family thirty minutes before bedtime and do something mellow like a jigsaw puzzle or crossword. For older kids, exercise or sports in the afternoon can help shake off any excess energy.

1 To learn more about children’s health and well-being, see Christine Bennett, Victor Nossar, and Sharon Mullin, Little People, Big Lives Report (Fremantle: University of Notre Dame Australia, 2019), available at

This article was released by the Australia Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, Sydney, Australia, and published by the Adventist News Network on June 13, 2019. Used by permission.

Katia Reinert, PhD, is Associate Director of the Health Ministries Department at the General Conference World Headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, USA.