Bedtime Fading For Managing Sleep Problems

Bedtime Fading For Managing Sleep Problems

Putting children to bed when they are not tired increases the chances of bedtime struggles. Therefore, for some children it is best to start by setting the bedtime at the time they usually fall asleep and gradually making the bedtime earlier.

Key points to remember about bedtime fading

This page is about sleep in primary school children. It's part of a whole section on sleeping sound.

  • for children beginning school, bedtime should ideally be no later than 8.30pm
  • putting children to bed when they are not tired increases the chances of bedtime struggles
  • work out when your child is naturally falling asleep and set this as the temporary bedtime
  • try your strategies for a number of nights
  • being consistent will increase your chances of success with improving your child's sleep patterns

When is a good bedtime for my child?

For children beginning school, bedtime should ideally be no later than 8.30pm.

Decide on a suitable bedtime for your child. Establish a regular bedtime to help set your child's internal body clock. Be sure that your child is ready for sleep before putting them to bed.

What is bedtime fading?

Putting children to bed when they are not tired increases the chances of bedtime struggles. Therefore, for some children it is best to start by setting the bedtime at the time they usually fall asleep and gradually making the bedtime earlier. For example:

Work out when your child is naturally falling asleep and set this as the temporary bedtime.

What does a temporary bedtime mean?

Being consistent will increase your chances of success with improving your child's sleep patterns.

If you want your child to go to bed at 8:30pm, but they usually do not fall asleep until 10:30pm, choose 10:30pm as the temporary bedtime. This will make it easier to teach your child how to fall asleep within a short time of getting into bed.

Once they are falling asleep easily and quickly at this temporary bedtime then make their bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every few days. Be patient - if you move the bedtime back too quickly, you may have problems with your child not being able to fall asleep.

Stop moving the bedtime when you have reached the bedtime you want (for example, 8.30pm).

Remember to try your strategies for a number of nights. Being consistent will increase your chances of success with improving your child's sleep patterns. If possible, make sure you and others caring for your child do the same thing as well.

Nights 1 and 2

Bedtime: 10.30pm

Nights 3 and 4

Bedtime: 10.15pm

Nights 5 and 6

Bedtime: 10.00pm

Nights 7 and 8

Bedtime: 9.45pm

Nights 9 and 10

Bedtime: 9.30pm

Nights 11 and 12

Bedtime: 9.15pm

Nights 13 and 14

Bedtime: 9.00pm

Nights 15 and 16

Bedtime: 8.45pm

Nightime 17 and 18

Bedtime: 8.30pm

Thumbnail of 'Bedtime fading' handout

Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand thank the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, for making this content available to parents and families.

© Copyright – Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children's 

Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 2014. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this content may be reproduced by a process, electronic or otherwise, without the specific written permission of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

This page last reviewed 29 April 2020.
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