Child can’t wind down at night? Why some kids struggle to go to sleep

By Amanda Morin

Lots of kids have trouble winding down at night from time to time. But bedtime can be a nightly struggle for some families. Why is it so hard for some kids to relax and drift off to sleep?

Trouble winding down can be related to worry and anxiety. It can also be related to fun stuff. Some kids get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that they have trouble switching gears at bedtime. Others don’t want to miss out on something cool that’s happening after they’re supposed to be asleep. 

Here are other reasons kids may have trouble winding down:

  • Not having the music, stuffed animal, or person they “need” to fall asleep (you may hear this called sleep association)
  • Being afraid of the dark, of having nightmares, or of other nighttime-related things
  • Getting stuck on thoughts and problems
  • Going through big changes at home, like a new baby or the death of a family member 
  • Having high levels of energy, or hyperactivity

Changes in routine can also throw off kids’ sleep schedules. For example, sleeping later in the morning can make it harder to wind down at night.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD is an ADHD/ASD expert and a best-selling author.