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Sleep Strategies

Specialist Community Paediatric Occupational Therapy
Advice and Information for Parents/Carers
Children who have sensory registration and processing difficulties can find relaxing in bed and either getting to or staying asleep difficult. Remember that deep pressure, touch and neutral warmth are calming to the various sensory systems, and enables a child to reach a state of relaxation quicker.

Strategies to try:

  • A calming bedtime routine provides structure and security and is part of good ‘sleep hygiene’. If a child knows to expect the same thing every evening then they will reach a relaxed state quicker (e.g. bath, teeth, story, bed)
  • Avoid computer games and stimulating videos/DVDs just before bedtime as they alert the brain, making it harder for the child to ‘switch off’
  • Deep massage prior to bed time, you can use calming scented lotions.
  • Back rubs, bear hugs and a rub down with a towel using deep pressure
  • Weighted blankets over child when in bed, or even whilst sitting on sofa prior to bed.
  • Sleeping in a sleeping bag
  • Swaddling a young child in blanket.
  • Different types of pyjamas, try tighter or looser fitting pyjamas to see what your child prefers.
  • Check seams for loose threads or labels which may irritate a child’s tactile system.
  • A bed tent to block out distractions, light and noise may help.
  • A small night light with a warm glow (but not bright enough to cast shadows) if your child is afraid of the dark.
  • Neutral colour on the walls. Try to limit the visual distractions in the bedroom i.e. busy pictures on the walls, toys and games stacked around room.
  • Dark blinds to cut down the light.
  • Reading in a quiet voice.
  • Making a small space for child to sleep in – some children like their bed pushed against the wall so that they can push their bodies against a wall, perhaps with a large teddy or extra pillows pressing against their other side.
  • Placing the mattress on the floor if your child is afraid of heights.
  • Organised bedroom – try to keep clean and uncluttered, as clutter can be distracting


Do not use any activities that you think would be detrimental to your child

The information sheets presented on this site were developed by Occupational Therapists primarily for use as a pre-referral resource.  The website accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any activity ideas or treatment regimen detailed in the information sheets.
Last Updated: 10 June 2015