Sleep plays an important role in consolidating new vocabulary, as evidenced by the behavioural benefits for sleep versus wake on new word memory. Recent work has begun to explore factors that influence overnight consolidation, finding that the sources of variability may differ from those that support initial language learning. In this talk, I will consider the relationship between two possible predictors of consolidation: variability in existing vocabulary knowledge and the temporal proximity of learning to sleep. I will draw upon studies that have examined word learning and consolidation in individuals with language and literacy disorders, which suggest that proximity to sleep may facilitate consolidation in individuals with vocabulary weaknesses. I will then present new work that places the role of timing at the focus of experimental investigation in 5- to- 7-year-old children, examining word learning from caregiver-read stories at or before bedtime. The findings suggest that learning close-but not too close-to bedtime may be beneficial for consolidating new vocabulary, and highlight the need to carefully consider differences between experimental and naturalistic learning contexts.