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Working Together For Anti-Bullying Week

Nov 13, 2020

As part of Anti-Bullying Week 2020, Kidscape looks at the relationship between bullying and sleep.

The relationship between bullying and sleep

We know that bullying can keep children (and adults) awake at night. Worrying about what has happened, or what might happen the next day, makes it harder to go to sleep at night and can cause sleep disturbance. In turn this can create a difficult cycle, where not getting a good night’s sleep impacts physical and mental health, making it harder to face the day ahead.  Kidscape and The Sleep Charity are working together to highlight bullying and give advice for a good night’s sleep.

Common challenges…

My child isn’t sleeping.

There are many things that can lead to sleep disturbance, but it’s important to gently explore whether they are worries or concerns that are keeping your child awake at night.

Bullying is impacting my child’s sleep.

If your child is going through a bullying situation it is highly likely that it will impact their sleep, as well as other aspects of their physical and mental health. So, it’s vital as parents and carers that we look out for signs of troubled such as not falling asleep easily, unexplained illness, refusing to go to school, reoccurring nightmares, depression and anxiety. Acknowledge the behaviour change and create opportunities to talk through any situation that is causing concern, the impact it is having, how you can help, and what you will do together to resolve the situation.

Upset Online.

Many young people will try and deal with a bullying situation before speaking about the issue with an adult. It’s important to understand why your child is continuing to use their device late at night, openly or in secret. The internet doesn’t switch off at night and your child might trying to prevent negative comments being shared. It’s always vital to find out why first. Try to stay calm and resist the temptation to ban your child from using the mobile phone. Banning online access could make your child less likely to share their online problems. It can also isolate your child from supportive friends online.

My child won’t switch off at night.

There is increasing pressure for children to be online at night. We have even heard of children falling asleep on Facetime to their friends! Speaking with friends can add comfort when dealing with a bullying situation but It’s also important to set boundaries with your children, keep devices out of the bedroom as much as you can, set a good example by limiting your own use in the evening, at mealtimes and during family time, and explain the benefits of a good night’s sleep to your child or teenager (e.g. feeling much better the next day).

My child seems to be having more mood swings and is tired and irritable.

Lack of sleep will impact how your child is feeling during the day, and how they act towards others. If you are noticing a change in your child’s behaviour, it is important to explore whether lack of sleep is a factor.

I don’t know how to help my child relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Establish calm and relaxing bed-time routines. These could include having a warm bath or shower, reading a favourite story or a good book, sharing together what you’ve been grateful for that day, and giving time for them to share anything that’s on their mind. Very often worries creep out at bedtime and by talking them through together it may help your child get to sleep.  And try not to send your child to bed with a device! The more you can keep the bedroom device free, the more you can help establish good sleep patterns for life.

For help with bullying visit