The Science & Strategies Behind Healthy Sleep Habits

Getting a good night’s sleep might seem like a no-brainer but for many of us, and especially our kids, it’s a tough task. Whether it’s nightmares, anxiety, or too much late-night stimulation, disrupted sleep can make learning more difficult, make us more irritable, and can contribute to a long list of health problems.

How can we create better sleep habits that benefit the whole family? What’s the science behind the right amount of sleep? Keep scrolling for information from sleep specialists on just how much sleep impacts our bodies and minds, and tips on how to set, and keep, good nighttime routines for kids of all ages. Then check out hands-on activities and crafts you can do at home to start putting your new sleep strategies to practice!

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The Science of Sleep

How Much Sleep Does My Kid Need?

Grades PreK-3
Sleep can have a profound effect on children’s growth and development. Here’s the lowdown (or “lay down”) on how much sleep your child needs between naps and a full night’s rest.

Catching Zzz’s | Spot on Science

Grades 3-8
Making sleep a priority is not just making a responsible decision, but also helps us do well in school and life. So is eight hours enough downtime? What if I’m a night owl? Margaret interviews a sleep specialist to get some answers and learn the importance of getting a good night’s rest.

Why Can’t Teens Wake Up Early For School? | Above the Noise

Grades 6-12
The research shows that teenagers are wired to sleep late, yet most schools in the US start before 8:30 am. Most school schedules revolve around the typical 9 to 5 workday of adults, and so there is a general worry that pushing back when school starts will be too disruptive. What’s the solution? Watch this Above the Noise episode to find out. 

Research Reveals Ancestors Likely Slept Less, Not More

Grades 6-12
Learn how a study from the UCLA Center for Sleep Research debunks the myth that modern humans get less sleep than our ancestors and are thus less healthy with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour.

Making Healthy Sleep Time Habits

Super Duper Sleepover | Donkey Hodie

Grades PreK-K
Panda and Donkey are excited for their sleepover, but they’re not getting much sleep because of a scary monster that appears when they turn off the lights. Sometimes things look different when the lights are off, but things are the same in the light and in the dark. What do the pals do to try to scare away the scary thing?

Following a Bedtime Routine | Rosie’s Rules

Grades PreK-2
Doing things in the right order (a routine) can help achieve a goal. Rosie realizes that to take Iggy to bed she has to follow a routine, and that it is important to follow the right order to complete the routine.

Solving Sleep Problems: Tips for Helping Your Child Become a Good Sleeper

Grades PreK-3
Here’s a set of guiding principles to help you develop your own path to you and your child getting a good night’s sleep.

How to Help Kids With Nightmares

Grades PreK-5
Bad dreams and nightmares (which are defined as bad dreams that cause the sleeper to wake up suddenly) are very common in children. Addressing daytime stress and establishing good sleep habits are useful strategies for preventing nightmares in children. Regular, soothing bedtime routines can help kids unwind. Here are other strategies you may want to consider.

How to Cope With Big Kid Sleep Issues

Grades 1-5
Joey was six years old when the sleep issues began. He was one of those babies who slept through the night by six months, napped clear through preschool, and always fell asleep easily. He was a pro sleeper. Two months into his kindergarten year, however, something changed.

Activities & Crafts

Make a Trolley Bed for a Stuffie

Grades PreK-K
Daniel Tiger made a bed for his stuffie, Tigey. Your child can learn about kindness and compassion by creating a comfy trolley bed for their stuffie, too.

Practice SUPER Morning and Bedtime Routines

Grades PreK-K
Morning and bedtime transitions can be tough, especially for little ones! Distractions can keep them from accomplishing their morning tasks as they try to get ready for the day. And at the end of the day, it can be difficult to wind down and prepare for bed. These simple morning and bedtime routines will help you navigate those transitions, and set some systems in place that help your child accomplish their morning or evening tasks with ease.

Bedtime Mobile Craft | Sesame Street

Grades PreK-K
It’s crafting time! Emphasize the importance of healthy sleeping habits with this mobile.

Make a Bedtime Routine Book

Grades PreK-2
Creating a “My Bedtime Routine” book can help your child understand and follow the steps to get ready for bed. Customize the book to include the steps in your family’s routine.