Many parents have questions about how much sleep their child needs. Youth have so many demands on their time, like school work, friends, social media, sports teams and clubs. It can be hard for them to get enough sleep.

Having enough sleep every night is so important to health and wellness. Youth need a lot of sleep because their bodies and brains are growing quickly. Sleep is also important for memory, immune function, emotions and behaviour. Lack of sleep can also affect school performance.

How much sleep does my youth need?

According to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth:

  • Youth 12 – 13 years old need 9 to 11 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep each night. 
  • Youth 14 - 17 years old need 8 to 10 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep each night. 

These are general guidelines, but every youth is different. Some may need a little less and some may need a little more. 



What can my youth do to get quality sleep?

  • Have a regular and relaxing bedtime routine - try a warm bath or shower, reading a book or listening to soft music
  • Keep their bedroom dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Avoid eating or drinking before bed - to prevent getting up to use the bathroom in the night
  • Do some physical activity a few hours before bed
  • Limit caffeine (coffee, tea, pop, chocolate, energy drinks), which will keep them youth awake
  • Avoiding use of nicotine, drugs or alcohol
  • Keep electronics out of their bedroom - TVs, computers, tablets, cell phones
  • Avoid stimulating activities 2 to 3 hours before bedtime like playing video games, computer activity, and television or movies
What are signs that my youth may have a problem with sleep?

It is easy to think that if your youth wakes up during the night, they might have an issue with sleep, but this is completely normal. Where it may become an issue is if it takes them a long time to fall back asleep. Poor sleep during this time can affect the brain development, physical growth, and success at school. Be sure to ask your doctor if you notice your youth is snoring loudly, sleepwalking, having seizures or night terrors, or breathes irregularly.

For more on youth and sleep see

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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