objectives: to assess sleep characteristics of adolescents infected by hiv, and to ascertain whether psychosocial aspects are associated to the quality of sleep. methods: a cross-sectional study assessing 102 hiv-infected adolescents of both genders, aged between 10 and 20 years-old and 120 controls. data collection was performed by applying the sleep disturbance scale for children, the epworth sleepiness scale, and the pediatric quality of life inventory. results: a sleep disturbance prevalence of 77.4% was found in patients, and a 75% prevalence in controls, and there was correlation between quality of sleep and of life. hiv-infected adolescents scored higher for sleep breathing disorders and had higher prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness. conclusions: hiv-infected adolescents had similar quality of sleep compared to healthy adolescents. this may be explained by the steady improvements in daily living as a result of successful anti-retroviral therapy, and by the vulnerability that affects brazilian adolescents living in major urban centers.