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Sleep. Such a simple, robust, self-contained word. And yet within it, there is a whole world of complexity, variability; even much mystery.

Here are my ‘top tips’ for a great night’s sleep :

  • Create a good routine; set a bedtime and waking-up time, both through the school week and into the weekend, as much as is practicable. The brain and the body can take up to a few weeks to fully get into the ‘habit’ of a quality, deep sleep.
  • Wind-down. In the 60 minutes or so before the planned ‘lights out’ time, avoid strenuous exercise, heavy meals, caffeinated drinks, and stimulating online activities such as gaming and social-media use. Try reading a book, using a bedside-lamp, or doing a few minutes of relaxation.
  • Minimise screen use before bed. Try sticking to the ‘sixty minute rule’ around screen usage before bedtime - even for senior students. If screens must be used within this time period, try dimming the screen’s brightness, or setting it to ‘night-mode’ which automatically reduces the blue light emitted. Another point to remember is that phone screens are almost always held much closer to the eye, than a laptop or tablet device; where possible try to utilise the latter types of device instead of the phone, to reduce the light getting into the eye.
  • Tech-free zones. For younger students, eg. in Primary school or early High school, we recommend not having any devices at all in the bedroom. This will avoid children being distracted by automatic updates, notifications and so on, and reinforce the point that bedtime is for uninterrupted sleep and nothing else. Having a shared overnight ‘recharge area’ for all devices in the common or living area is one suggestion, and this also models good behaviour for the whole family.
  • Consistent sleep routines.Try to avoid ‘catch up sleep’ at the weekends. It often does feel good to have a well-deserved sleep-in for a few hours after a busy or stressful week, but this risks stopping the mind and body achieving a stable and predictable sleep-wake cycle in the long run.

Maintenance Remember, it can take a few weeks for the mind and body to fully adjust to a new sleep timetable. So, don’t expect quick results! The key is planning ahead, preparing well, and maintaining your healthy habits.

Additional resources

There are many useful Apps, websites or video-clips available to assist with improving sleep patterns, to assist relaxation in the evenings, or to reduce stress and anxiety. Some are free and some may charge a small amount to download. Try to see which ones may work for you and for your family. Two Australian websites that I recommend, designed by specialists in the field and using evidence-based principles and research, are :



Finally, if your sleep issues and difficulties persist despite active efforts to improve the situation, it may be useful to discuss this with a health professional. GP’s will be very familiar with managing sleep problems in young people. They will also be able to refer you to a specialist if the problems are serious, such as a neurologist, a sleep-medicine specialist, or a psychologist. Your child’s school-counsellor or psychologist will also be very skilled in giving advice around healthy sleep.



1 Shakespeare, W. (n.d.) Much Ado About Nothing (B. Mowat, P. Werstine, M. Poston, and R. Niles, eds.). The Folger Shakespeare. http://shakespeare.folger.edu/shakespeares-works/much-ado-about-nothing/

2 Avidan, A. Y., & Zee, P. C. (2011). Handbook of sleep medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

3 Berman, R. (2019). Researchers activate problem-solving during sleep. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

4 Paruth, S., Brooks, L. J., D'Ambrosio, C., Hall, W. A., Kotagal, S., Lloyd, R. M., Malow, B. A., Maski, K., Nichols, C., Quan, S. F., Rosen, C. L., Troester, M. M., & Wise, M. S. (2016). Recommended Amount of Sleep for Pediatric Populations: A Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 12(6), 785–786. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.5866

5 Gerber L. (2014). Sleep deprivation in children: a growing public health concern. Nursing, 44(4), 50–54. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NURSE.0000441881.87748.90.

6 Fuller, C., Lehman, E., Hicks, S., & Novick, M. B. (2017). Bedtime Use of Technology and Associated Sleep Problems in Children. Global pediatric health, 4, 2333794X17736972. https://doi.org/10.1177/2333794X17736972

7 Robotham, D. (2011). Sleep as a public health concern: Insomnia and mental health. Journal of Public Mental Health, 10, 234-237. doi:10.1108/17465721111188250

8 Benca, R. M., Obermeyer, W. H., Thisted, R. A., & Gillin, J. C. (1992). Sleep and psychiatric disorders. A meta-analysis. Archives of general psychiatry, 49(8), 651–670. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820080059010

9 Fry, A. (2021). How Blue LIght Affects Kids’ Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/blue-light