Learn how many hours of sleep a tween or teen needs, what time bedtime should be, why sleep is still important, and how to help your child get great sleep in these age groups.
While sleep is certainly less of a concern for you in the tween and teen years than it was in the baby years, it still needs to be an area of focus and an area with rules in your home.
Tweens and teens need less sleep than they did as babies, toddlers, preschoolers, or early school-aged children.
But less sleep doesn’t mean sleep needs aren’t present or do not matter.
- Total Sleep Needs Per 24 Hours
- Tween Sleep Needs
- Teen Sleep Needs
- Ideal Bedtime for Tweens and Teens
- Why Sleep is Still Important
- Basic Sleep Facts Still Apply for Teens and Tweens
- Stimulation Levels Matter
- Sunlight Matters
- Caffeine Interferes with Sleep
- Sleep Routines Help Set the Stage for Sleep
- Sleep Environments Impact Sleep
- Sleep Schedules Matter
- Technology and Sleep
- Bedtime Rules for Tweens and Teens
- Naps for Tweens and Teens
- A Note on Anxiety
- Related Posts
Total Sleep Needs Per 24 Hours
As your child moves into and through puberty, the brain needs less sleep in a 24 hour period. This will change over time just as it changed over time in the first year as a baby and into toddler years.
Take note that your child probably has the same sleep needs tenancies as she did as a baby or toddler. If she was a high sleep needs baby, she will probably be high sleep needs as a tween and teen.
The same is true for children who were low sleep needs or quite average.
Knowing this gives you a good starting point when you are figuring out the optimal amount of sleep your tween or teen needs each night.
Tween Sleep Needs
Tweens typically need 9-12 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
This can vary from child to child, so you might find you have an 8 hour needs preteen or perhaps your tween really needs 13 hours of sleep.
Just as you did with your kiddo when he was young, go with his exact needs.
Your child may move into “tween” age as young as age 8. Ages 9-12 are very solidly in the preteen years.
With that said, however, puberty could start later for your kiddo, so sleep changes might not really start as young as age 8 or 9.
Teen Sleep Needs
Most teenagers need between 8-10 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
You could have a 7 hour a night sleeper or even an 11 hour a night sleeper.
Ideal Bedtime for Tweens and Teens
If you are wondering what time your tween or teen should go to bed, you simply:
- Figure out their optimal number of hours of sleep.
- Count back from what time they have to get up in the morning until you reach the number.
So if Brayden is getting up at 6 AM each day, and needs 8 hours of sleep, he needs to be in bed by 10 PM (or a little earlier so he is asleep by 10).
Why Sleep is Still Important
Good, healthy sleep is still vital and important for your tween or teen.
The benefits of sleep do not change just because your child is older (and they don’t change for you as an adult, either).
Here are some ways that sleep benefits your tween or teen:
- It regulates mood (winnner!!!)
- It helps your child focus
- It helps with memory
- It helps provide increased energy
- It improves health and immune function
- It reduces stress and anxiety
A teenager’s brain still isn’t developed. In fact, for most people, the brain does not fully develop until age 25.
Sleep is vital for brain development.
Basic Sleep Facts Still Apply for Teens and Tweens
If you have been following this blog since your now tween or teen was a baby, you know how important sleep is and you know the basics of healthy sleep.
Those things do not change. They still apply to your teen or tween.
If your tween or teen is struggling with sleeping at night, there is a good chance one of these basics is off.
Stimulation Levels Matter
In order for your child of any age to be tired enough to sleep, there needs to be enough mental stimulation AND physical stimulation in the day.
Young babies get these things easily.
As the child gets older, it gets harder.
Make sure your tween or teen is moving and being stimulated mentally.
It is okay to require outside time or some exercise each day. It is okay to limit technology so they have reason to move.
It is even okay to require them to go for a walk with you (I do this–side note, this is a fantastic way to get your tween or teen talking).
Your exposure to the sun impacts how well you can sleep at night.
The sun sparks melatonin secretion.
Morning sun is super important to getting your brain to secrete melatonin at the right time of day. Do your best to make sure your tween or teen sees the sun in the morning hours.
Sunlight throughout the day helps with melatonin.
As teenagers get older, melatonin starts to naturally secrete later, so they get tired later in the day. You don’t want to make that even later by not having sun exposure in the morning.
You can learn a lot more about the sun and sleep in this post: Sleep Facts to Understand for Successful Baby Sleep
Caffeine Interferes with Sleep
If your teenager or tween consumes caffeine, be really mindful and aware of the timing of when that is consumed and how that impacts night sleep.
It is okay to limit caffeine after a certain point in the day.
Sleep Routines Help Set the Stage for Sleep
Remember sleep routines? Remember how you worked to make sure your baby had the same routine before every nap?
Sleep routines matter for tweens and teens, too.
A consistent sleep routine signals the brain that sleep is coming. Help your tween or teen set up a sleep routine to follow each night to help cue the brain that it is almost bedtime.
Reading, relaxing, and a hot shower are all things that are great for a sleep routine at this age.
Sleep Environments Impact Sleep
Just because you have a tween or teen does not mean that the sleep environment no longer matters.
Have the room dark and quiet.
Help your child figure out the best temperature for the room and how to dress for sleep. Make sure blankets and pillows are conducive for your child’s sleep.
The bedroom should be tech free (more on that below).
Sleep Schedules Matter
Consistency in the sleep schedule matters, just like it did for your baby.
Even on weekends.
Fortunately, your tween or teen should be able to be more flexible than he was as a baby.
So while a baby needs to stay consistent within 30 minutes, your tween or teen can have 1-2 hours of flexibility.
You can have the occasional larger sway, but make those the exception rather than the weekend norm.
In other words, you should not let your teenager sleep all day or even all morning.
If your teenager consistently needs to sleep several extra hours on weekends, it is a good sign that sleep throughout the week is not adequate and needs some readjusting.
Technology and Sleep
It is very well known and well reported by this point that the light from technology interferes with natural melatonin secretion and therefore with night sleep.
Have a rule that technology needs to be off and turned in 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime.
Do not allow the tech in the bedroom. No video games and no streaming.
There is plenty a child can do after the tech is turned in and turned off. That is when a shower can happen, the face can be washed, teeth can be brushed, a last bathroom trip can take place, and pajamas can go on.
Scriptures can be read, prayers can be said, and journals can be written in.
Books can be read.
30 minutes really isn’t that long when you consider how long it takes to do your basic hygiene before bed.
If you allow tech right up until the time your teen should be going to sleep, then the hygiene will either be neglected completely OR bedtime will be later than idea.
If you have a tween or teen and don’t have this rule yet, you might get some pushback, but that is okay. Before long, your child will get used to the new rule.
If you don’t have a child that age yet, then start with these rules and continue them forward into your tween and teen years.
Bedtime Rules for Tweens and Teens
You may have noticed that tweens and teens have bedtimes that get later and later. Your preteen will need bedtime later as the years go, and that will continue to move back as your child becomes a teenager.
A benefit of consistent bedtime that my husband and I have always loved is that we have time together each even after kids go to bed.
As Brayden, our oldest, got older and didn’t need bedtime as early as his younger sisters, we weren’t sure exactly what to do to allow him to have bedtime later and still allow us some time alone.
Our first step with Brayden was to allow him to stay up later, but he had to be in his own room. He has his own room, so we were able to set that rule. We would “put him to bed,” but he would just be in his room until he decided he wanted to go to bed.
At our house, sleep has always been very valued. The benefits of sleep are understood and respected. They are even recognized. My kids don’t like to be tired.
So all of the kids have been responsible with going to bed. Even 8 year old Brinley, our youngest, does not like to stay up past her bedtime.
So if sleep has always been a thing at your house, there is no reason that won’t continue with tween and teen years.
McKenna, our third child, gets so wrapped up in books when she is reading she really doesn’t notice anything else around her.
Once she hit the age of being allowed to stay awake after being put to bed, she was consistently staying up too late reading, though not intentionally.
We solved that by getting her a timer that stays on her night stand. We set it (or she does) so she knows when it is time to turn lights out and go to sleep.
In order to keep a solid bedtime routine, is wise to have a time when the child is required to start getting ready for bed. If the child is required to be in bed by 8:30 PM, but takes 30 minutes to get ready for bed, have a rule that 8:00 PM is the time to start getting ready for bed.
So you will have three times of note each night:
- Start to get ready for bed time
- In bedroom time
- Lights out time
As our children move to teenage years, we have allowed the time up before bed to take place in our den. Our den is a family room, and the teens can stay up together in that room until a certain time. That time can be right before their lights out time if they like.
Remember to limit tech before bed.
Take note: If you are like us and enjoy your kid-free time after kids go to bed, you will have later bedtimes as your kids get older even if you have rules similar to ours.
It is helpful to have proper expectations. Know that the time your kids are all in their rooms for the night will just get later and your kid-free time will get shorter.
Naps for Tweens and Teens
Your tween or teen probably won’t need to nap. If he or she does, it is wise to keep it more to a power nap of around 20 minutes so your child doesn’t get too much daytime sleep and not be able to fall asleep at night.
A Note on Anxiety
Many tweens and teens experience some level of anxiety or worries. These feelings can often interfere with falling asleep at night.
Talking about fears, worries, and anxieties can really help.
Journaling is a powerful tool for such things, which is why encouraging a teenager to write in his or her journal before bed each night can be so beneficial to mental health, winding down, and healthy sleep.
See my post Best Tips for Parenting an Anxious Child for more help on this topic.
You know the importance of sleep and you know the basics for how to have healthy sleep. These basics apply to your teen just as they did your baby.
You can have rules for your teen just you did for your baby. Make sure you make “rules” what must be rules and allow your child to govern his or herself in the areas they can take over.