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.

Sleeping sound in primary school children - bedtime fading

Set bedtime

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.

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.

  • if you want your child to go to bed at 8:30, but they usually do not fall asleep until 10:30, choose 10:30 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)
Night Bedtime
Nights 1 and 2 10.30pm
Nights 3 and 4 10.15pm
Nights 5 and 6 10.00pm
Nights 7 and 8 9:45pm
Nights 9 and 10 9.30pm
Nights 11 and 12 9.15pm
Nights 13 and 14 9.00pm
Nights 15 and 16 8.45pm
Nights 17 and 18 8.30pm

Remember: 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.

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 06 July 2017.
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