News & Blog

Kids Bedtimes Creeping Later And Technology On The Up Amidst Covid-19 Crisis

May 15, 2020

Not only did our latest National Sleep Survey highlight the impact Covid-19 was having on adult’s sleep, we also found it was having a detrimental impact on children’s sleep too.

It found that as many as 70% of children under 16 are going to bed later – but are also waking later (57%) – showing that a significant drift in bedtime schedules has already happened. This represents a clear risk with an obvious knock-on effect when schools re-open.

Worryingly, children are becoming more heavily reliant on technology with nearly three quarters (74%) of parents reporting that their children are using electronic devices (TVs, tablets, gaming machines and phones) significantly more during the coronavirus lockdown.

The survey, with partners The Sleep Charity and Sleepstation, shows early warning signs about the long-term negative impact on kids’ slumber, which backs up a newly published paper from the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (May 2020). The paper suggests there is potential for sleep problems to emerge or worsen during, and following, the pandemic is high. This has a knock-on effect on daytime behaviour – including hyperactivity, tearfulness and irritability – and family life.

We are living in unprecedented times and, understandably, routines around bedtime have slipped. Lockdown is having an enormous impact on family life and parents are having to juggle day to day life around working, teaching and parenting and it’s not an easy task. In fact, 76% of parents feel that Covid-19 is affecting their ability to maintain routines, enforce boundaries and remain patient. More than half of these parents report moderate to severe disruption to their ability to parent effectively.

However, the worry lies with how children will transition back to a normal routine once schools reopen. While it’s tempting to allow later bedtimes and lazier mornings – and extend electronic device use – it can take two or three weeks to change a new habit. And with talks that some kids may return by 1st June, routines need adapting now to try and shift back to a normal sleeping pattern.


Here are The Sleep Charity’s top tips

  • Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule. If bedtimes/wake times have drifted, start to move them slowly forward by 10 or 15 minutes every two to three days
  • Put a stop to all electronic devices (including parents) an hour before bedtime. Use this time as a family (and with no extracurricular activities) to play a board/card game, colour or do a jigsaw. It is relaxing for both parents and children
  • Try to get out in daylight for at least half an hour every day to help reset children’s body clocks – even in lockdown, children are permitted to enjoy one hour of exercise
  • Try to keep schoolwork and toys out of the bedroom – and certainly don’t send them to the bedroom as a sanction. Ideally, use bedrooms just for sleeping.