Tweens and sleep and hormones, oh my

Is this going to be another post about sleep Beth? Still? All these years on? Why yes, yes it is. I’m nothing if consistent, when it comes to sleep.


You see, while I have a baby that wakes in the night and a 7 year old who FOREVER WAKES IN THE NIGHT DEAR LORD WILL IT EVER END I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM OH MY WORD I SO DO. I have had an almost 10 year old who was a great sleeper. My saviour! My beacon of light in some dark, endless nights.

That is until recently.

Well kind of. You see she’s recently (probably the last month or so) had real trouble getting to sleep. And it got me thinking that it might be some kind of pre-teen/tween thing, and because I know lots of you have had teenagers, you might know about this too. Help!

The girls head to bed and read for a while with Harper always falling asleep straight away but Daisy tossing and turning for many hours, sometimes until 10.30 when I head to bed. She’s frustrated, tired and OVER it. We’ve tried reading and meditations, quiet time and no screens. Name a thing, go on. We’ve tried it!

But if it’s just a change of sleep patterns due to growing up, I can take that. I’d love to hear from you guys with any info you have. You see I am never one for reading books, I wing it, and I blog. So tell me!

Is there a change in sleeping patterns around now?
Got any tips for getting to sleep when you are REALLY tired, and want to, but can’t?
Will I ever work this parenting business out or do you just keep having a crack and hoping for the best?

Illustration from Pinterest via here.


  1. Very interested to see what others say about this. My 11yo daughter has had issues with getting to sleep for the last two years or so. She also has some issues with anxiety, so it’s hard to know if it’s an age thing or a anxiety thing.

  2. I remember there was a time with both my children there minds are very active and thinking too much kept them awake .We talked about being safe that you brain is thinking and keeping you awake they listened to music to distract them .21 year old still does .I think this too will pass . Hopefully!!!

  3. My 10 year old is the same. She has always been a night owl but now she gets really upset that she can’t get to sleep. The more anxious she gets about it the harder it gets. The last week I have been making an effort to go and lie down beside her and have a bit of a talk. I think this has been helping a bit, it’s like she has too much going on in her brain ( welcome to my world!) so when she can offload some of it it helps her relax. It’s a tough time this new tween world for the both of us. Keen to read what others with tween experience have to say too.

  4. Ahhhh no idea…I have a 15 year old that wakes at 3am and cannot get back to sleep until 5am.
    We find lactium helps. Good for sl wiping and anxiety. Basically, it’s milk in a pill. So maybe try a warm cup of milk to start with, and then perhaps graduate to a pill – found at the chemist ( chat with pharmacist first)
    Otherwise……..I don’t know! My hubby keeps asking when I will sleep naked again. Bit inappropriate when we are constantly bombarded by the 7 year old.
    Oh will just quickly add that the 15yr old will never come into our room again after walking in on us on the act. Win-win

  5. well 18 year old goes to bed/sleep around 1-2am; 15 year old about 11pm; 13 year old um… midnight or so…………………………………………………………………… that one has not fallen asleep before 9pm since he was 4…. so of course they sleep a lot over the w/end… I fall asleep before them all. Probably zombies at school… but teens should not be made to be at their desks at 8.30am in the morning either… They seem to never be tired late at night! I can NOT make the last one sleep and just gave up on it years ago and go to bed myself. he is in his room reading/doing homework… I need to be awake for 600 kids every day, so this is how we rock and roll!

  6. Rachel Mudge says

    I have a ten and a half year old boy who had the same problem, but I’ve found a product which works wonders for him, we call it the miracle potion!! It’s called “Mt Retour Organic Cosy Sleep” it’s basically essential oil in a roll on form which you pop on to pressure points (wrists, temples, back of neck) it smells amazing, and Blake is out like a light, it’s almost too good to be true! He’s become a bit of a junkie looking for his next hit of essential oil before bed haha, he knows how much it works for him! I just buy it off eBay but you might have a stockist near you. xx

  7. I know you have said that you have tried meditations, but have you tried the smiling mind app? It is a saviour with my tween! Also music, my girls listen to music each night in bed, helps them unwind and relax. Maybe some herbal tea before bed? Camomile?
    Exercise may tire her out? A bike ride or walk after dinner may tire her and calm her mind.

  8. Can’t help you, I’m afraid. What you are describing is me – from age 10 to………well, now. Yes, aged 47 and STILL CAN’T GET TO SLEEP EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I am in awe of those people who hit the pillow and are out like a light. I am interested to see other comments and suggestions, though. There is always hope !

  9. My now almost 12 year old did the same thing around aged 10. We tried making bed time a little later (from 7.30 to 8pm). She then read for a little while. It seemed to work. She was going to bed not quite tired enough, couldn’t sleep quickly and so became anxious about not sleeping and of course, stayed awake even longer.

  10. I had this problem at that age as did both my sisters. My parents tried everything, nothing worked. Years later I remember watching a documentary with mum that mentioned the hormonal changes in early puberty can lead to insomnia. We just stared at each other having the same light bulb moment. It would have really helped to know that at the time, to know there was a reason and I wasn’t going crazy and it wouldn’t last forever!!! So yes, you are right and probably just have to get through it as best you can. I’m sure it was well over by the time I started high school. I’m a good sleeper now (when my own very young children let me)!

    • I SO reckon this is a thing and I was the same. If someone had given me a simple explanation it would have made things a LOT easier to deal with I reckon.

  11. My daughter went through exactly the same thing during years 5 and 6 at school. It used to drive me nuts as she was getting to sleep later than me and then she was tired in the morning. We tried all the same things you did and nothing worked even though she was a very willing participant in the trials as she didn’t like being tired all the time either. Now that she’s in year 7 we find that she is more tired after a day at high school and has to get up earlier – these 2 factors have led to her managing to get to bed at a reasonable time more often (but still not all the time!). We have concluded that she is a night owl – the complete opposite to me – and so her natural inclination is to stay up until late and wake later in the morning which she is only able to do during the holidays. I’m afraid I think you just have to roll with it. L x

  12. Hi Beth, thomas loves the head space app. It talks about meditation and mindfulness. It’s working for him most nights.

  13. Is there sleep school for kids??
    It may be profoundly redundant of me, and you’ve been down this road, but I’d be asking your GP about it.
    Not anxiety driven at all?

    Good luck!!

  14. We discovered after a while that our 6 year old finds listening to audio books whilst drawing/colouring more relaxing than reading to herself or being read to. So now I read her a chapter of something then she goes into her room for quiet CD and drawing time for 20 mins or so before I to bed and lights out.

  15. My eldest was like this suddenly and the best solution was to relax the bed time – she still goes to her room at the same time as the others but she turns her light off at around 8.30-9… and I sometimes find her still reading at 9.30!! I was very concerned this would be too late but it has worked out very well. She actually worried about being tired but eventually she was a just going to sleep without any stress so she was much happier.

  16. My kids (13,10&8) have at times gone through this and I do remember as a kid/teenager having the same issue. At the moment we solve it by listening to music or a talking book on a ipod shuffle.

  17. I don’t know if it’s normal or not as I don’t have older kids.
    My suggestions would be:
    -Listening to something on the Headspace app
    – Lavendar oil on temples/pillow
    – White noise (specifically the sound of rain falling)
    – Music/audiobook
    – Yoga routine (do the same sequence/routine every night)
    – Just letting her read or do whatever until whatever time at night. Perhaps doing this for a week or so will take away the pressure/anxiety about not being able to fall asleep and she’ll naturally get back to her old habits

    Good luck and looking forward to a follow up post on how you go!

  18. What time does she go to bed Beth? My just 11 and nearly 13 year old head off at about 8.30pm to read and lights out at 9pm. It does seem late but they are both straight to sleep. My 11 year old was a shocking sleeper (like not sleeping through the night until she went to school) but the later bedtime suits her. Both are great at sleeping in on Sundays when there is no sport (so good for mum and dad’s who have had a late night!).

  19. This started for my daughter at 9 & has continued this year, but better now. She used to get really anxious about not getting to sleep. I’ve discovered mainly because 1) it’s frustrating yep 2) she feels lonely & anxious if she’s the only one awake in the house. To keep it short, this is what we implemented: 1) Reassure her that if she’s tired in the morning it’s ok to hv a day off school 2) explained ‘coping mechanisms’ & gave her a selection to use – mk a small mug of warm milk in the microwave to drink in bed, colour in, read a book for short while. She uses relaxation oil in an electric vaporiser. This year she occasionally takes Melatonin tablets (over counter) before bedtime. Hv also found a tea she liked at Coles, something like Sleepytime Tea.

  20. Try book ‘Sleepy Magic’ by Danielle Wright

  21. Try having her listen to weightless. It’s apparently the most relaxing music in the world. We all love it and I cannot listen to it without falling asleep!

  22. I found my daughter’s bedtime gently increased from about the age of 10 to 8.30pm and now at 12 going on 13 she has crept to 9pm-ish. When she was 10 she was given a Sentence a Day book from Typo (which lasts for 3 years). Basically it asks a question, such as ‘what was the best thing that happened today’. She has written in this book as part of her bedtime routine every day since she got it, it’s the last thing she does before we say goodnight. I compare it to some advice I was once given to write down a list of things to do the next day to empty my head when I was having trouble sleeping. Now she is on the second year cycle, she gets to reflect every day on what she answered the year before too!

  23. Try Young Living lavender oil….just a drop and also on her pillow. Or you can diffuse it. Good luck!

  24. My top tip is to get her one of these and have her lie on it before bed. That, and bathing or having a footbath with magnesium flakes in – note Epsom salts aren’t as concentrated/effective as pure magnesium. Should be able to get it from the chemist. Good luck! x

  25. Started at about age 8 and gradually worsened with increased anxiety and we tried everything including medical advice so at 14 she asked if she could watch episodes of Friends on a portable DVD player in bed – highly inappropriate but I really couldn’t give a rats by that point. She’s almost 19 now and sleeps like a log, did very well at school, goes to uni, has friends and socialises and no harm seems to have been done from having little sleep and watching unsuitable tv in the middle of the night.

  26. I had to extend the bedtime for both mine at around this age. I don’t know if your girls are staggered, but some alone time with mum and dad might be nice. Half an hour makes all the difference. My daughter also had trouble switching her mind off but couldn’t cope with complete silence and we found an app called White Noise. Literally as the name suggests, and there is a variety of sounds to choose from. She found the one that she liked best was the clothes dryer! Now she’s 14, she goes to bed around 9.30, spends about half an hr reading then she’s out likea light.

  27. Beth, I was listening to Dr Carl on Triple J a few weeks ago and a guy had called in asking if being “over tired” was a thing. His wife was saying that their baby was overtired but he didn’t believe that existed (Dr Carl said it absolutely is a thing and totally put that guy in his place – listen to your wives gentlemen) ANYWAY Dr Carl then went on to talk about different requirements of sleep as we go through different stages of our lives and I specifically remember him saying that as you approach puberty the body instinctively wants to stay up later. He didn’t explain why though. He then went on to talk about how the Australian schooling system doesn’t support the needs of sleep for certain age brackets, but there are countries where the schooling system caters for the sleep needs of tweets/teenagers ie school starts later in the day because they sleep later. I thought it was really fascinating.
    Triple J have their podcasts available to download and I’m sure it was about 3 or 4 weeks ago.
    Thinking of you. It never ends does it?? xx

  28. oh beth not nice hun!
    everyone has their own problems! kids too and the pressures are too great these days!
    my ideas about child rearing are outmoded but I think that
    there is too much stimulation!
    my daughter was expert at getting me to sit and do yoga relaxation with her!
    rub feet! and then call out in ten minutes! … muuuuum!!! you said you’d come back!!!
    they are manipulators! I say once demand fed they will be demanding!!!
    I get you and I only had one!
    good luck hun! much love m:)XX
    maybe they could all gather and do meditation before they go to sleep!
    set clear intentions! … with beatific results!

  29. My lad’s 15 now and is pretty good but I remember now he did go through a stage when he was about 11? I didn’t make a big fuss of it when he’d come and tell me he couldn’t get to sleep. The poster above who says they put relaxing music on? I did that too – a bit of Deep Forest. I’d also let him read if he wanted to. He certainly wasn’t allowed to stay up and do anything else.

  30. Operation Ouch (TV show) did a puberty special the other day. They talked about how when kids start puberty, their melatonin starts to kick in later, so they don’t feel tired until around 10ish. When they are little, melatonin kicks in a lot earlier. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Poor Daisy, and poor you! You both must be so frustrated. Here’s hoping this stage doesn’t last too long πŸ™
    Good luck!

  31. I know with both my boys the years between 8-12 were haaaaarrrrdddd. EVERYTHING changes!! Then they step into the teenage years proper & everything to goes to shit. Hormones are HUGE! I feel like between 10-16 my eldest was lucky to draw breath each day. He pushed me to my limit. But then he became human again, an almost adult human.
    My best friends daughter is 10 & is having quite the hormonal outbursts. She bought her a few books ( because she’s a reader & thinker type of of kid) so she could read up on what was going on with her body & head. It’s a scary time not knowing why things are happening.
    Good luck!!

    • we have a whole heap of different books as Daise is the same – so important to know what’s going on – makes it easier I reckon. Wish someone and told me!

  32. Try removing all foods containing 160b/annatto – it’s is heaps of things – ice cream yoghurt custard ….. – and also get your hands on some magnesium spray or magnesium flakes (NOT Epsom salts).

  33. Us humans are very good at associating bed time with sleeplessness after a period of trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. The advice I have from a sleep psychologist I work with is to try to fall asleep and then after a certain period if you’re not asleep, hop up and do something out of bed (no tv or screens obviously). Then when tiredness comes again hop into bed and do the same thing and keep doing it until eventually you fall asleep. The idea behind it is to break the association (and often anxiety) of being in bed and not being able to sleep, it makes for a horrible night or two but works well a lot of the time. Hope that helps, good luck!

  34. Hi Beth, no idea about whether or not Daisy’s restlessness is a pre-teen thing or not but this is a random suggestion my Dad gave me when I was a little girl to help me get to sleep when I couldn’t – he told me to use reverse psychology and even though you’re in bed, it’s dark and your eyes are closed you tell yourself over and over “I must stay awake, I must not fall asleep”. And eventually you succumb! This little trick works pretty well for me if all else fails!

  35. Completely random…… but have you wormed them lately? My 9 year old had been having trouble at bedtime for months and eventually other symptoms led us to worming her….. and she was back to falling asleep as normal. Turns out one of the symptoms is restlessness at bedtime etc. Good luck ?

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