An 11 year-old girl needs between 10 and 11 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Unfortunately, the need for this much sleep often clashes with increasing academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities, social obligations and physical changes occurring at this age, making it difficult for girls to fall asleep or get adequate sleep. Inadequate or poor quality sleep may lead to academic difficulties, mood swings and behavioral problems. These problems may be prevented by following a few tips to help your daughter fall asleep more easily.
Keep it Consistent
By age 11, your daughter may be asserting increased independence, but it is important to continue emphasizing a consistent sleep schedule, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Encourage her to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even during weekends and holidays. If you do allow staying up late or sleeping in, limit it to no more than 2 to 3 hours later than your daughter’s normal schedule. Also, limit naps to 30 minutes or less. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule will help your daughter regulate her internal sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep.
Encourage a Bedtime Routine
A relaxing bedtime routine can help your daughter unwind from the day’s stimulation, making it easier to fall asleep. Encourage your daughter to engage in relaxing activities at least an hour before bedtime, such as reading, writing in a journal or taking a warm bath. You might also offer your daughter a light snack before bed, using foods that combine the sleep-inducing hormone tryptophan and carbohydrates, such as a small bowl of low-sugar cereal and milk or half a turkey or peanut butter sandwich.
Set the Scene
Ensure that your daughter’s room is conducive to sleep. The room should be dark, cool and quiet. Use of computers, televisions, video games and cell phones stimulate the mind, making it difficult to fall asleep. Establish and enforce limits on the use of these items before bedtime or remove them from your daughter’s bedroom.
Make sure your daughter is getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise each day. According to the Teens Health website, this will help her feel more energized throughout the day, relieve stress and fall asleep more easily at night. Remind your daughter to avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime, which may cause a burst of energy that makes falling asleep more difficult.
Take Time to Talk
Along with other daily stressors, hormones, such as estrogen, begin to surge around this age, increasing your daughter’s sleeping difficulty, self-consciousness and moodiness. Before bed may be a good time to spend some quiet, quality time together, allowing her to talk to you about her day, her feelings or other things on her mind. Relieving pent-up worries and emotions may help her fall asleep more easily.
Consider Factors that Affect Sleep
Around the onset of puberty, the National Sleep Foundation explains that there is an internal shift in the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes a person feel sleepy. This means that your daughter may not feel sleepy until 11 p.m. or later. Discuss these changes and the importance of sleep and good sleeping habits with your daughter. Explain that adequate sleep is necessary for feeling her best and performing well in academic and extracurricular activities. Also, explain that caffeine and stimulating activities close to bedtime can lead to difficulty falling asleep and other sleep disturbances. Understanding the effects of sleep on her body may increase your daughter’s compliance with sleep rules.