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The Ideal Bedtime for an 11-Year-Old

by Gail Sessoms

Determining the right bedtime allows your 11-year-old to get the sleep hours he needs each night. Children, from infants to teens, need a particular amount of sleep at each age for healthy development and functioning. Although there is much to distract an 11-year-old from heading off to bed or from falling asleep, the battle continues for consistent bedtimes and sufficient sleep. Healthy sleep habits start with establishing and sticking to the ideal bedtime based on your child’s age.

Sleep Needs by Age

Children ages 5 to 12 years old need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Early school schedules and busy lives often deprive children of sleep. Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences, including problems with short-term memory, attentiveness, mood, academic performance and weight gain, says KidsHealth.org. Based on your child’s personal needs, she might more or less sleep than average. Although the recommended hours of sleep for your adolescent decrease from birth to about 5 years of age, she still needs more sleep than what is recommended for adults.

Setting Bedtime

Depending on the time of year, school schedules and other considerations that affect waking time, set bedtime to allow for the recommended hours of sleep. If your child wakes up at 6 a.m. to get ready for school, he needs a bedtime between 7 and 8 p.m. to provide the recommended 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Adjust bedtime on weekends or during school vacations if your child tends to sleep late during those times. Discuss with your tween why sleep is so important and encourage him to take responsibility for his sleep needs.

Pre-Bedtime Routines

Help your child develop the habits she needs to stick to the bedtime schedule with routines she performs each night before climbing into bed. Routines set the tone and allow her to control her progression through the end of the day. Discuss the routine with your child and agree on what it includes, such as tidying up her bedroom, bathing, brushing teeth and preparing for the next day, followed by a period of quiet time. Try to keep the bedtime routine to 30 minutes or less to help her avoid getting off-track.

Management and Control

Allow your child some flexibility in his bedtime routine, but maintain control by limiting his choices. Lighten up a bit on weekends by allowing later bedtimes or extended quiet times. If your child has trouble sticking to habits and managing routines, allow late morning sleep-ins only one hour or so past her usual wake-up time during school days. Allow her time before bed for homework, recreation and socialization so that bedtime feels like the perfect end to a good day. Maintain a pre-bedtime routine and a specific bedtime during the summer or school vacations to reinforce the importance of habit.

About the Author

Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.

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