Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) are dynamically-arranged networks typically composed of a large number of arbitrarily-distributed sensor nodes with computing capabilities contributing to –at least– one common application. The main characteristic of these networks is that of being functionally constrained due to a scarce availability of resources and strong dependence on uncontrollable environmental factors. These conditions introduce severe restrictions on the applicability of classic real-time methods aiming at guaranteeing time-bounded communications. Existing real-time solutions tend to apply concepts that were originally not conceived for sensor networks, idealizing realistic application scenarios and overlooking at important design limitations. This results in a number of misleading practices contributing to approaches of restricted validity in real-world scenarios. Amending the confrontation between WSNs and real-time objectives starts with a review of the basic fundamentals of existing approaches. In doing so, this thesis presents an alternative approach based on a generalized timeliness notion suitable to the particularities of WSNs. The new conceptual notion allows the definition of feasible real-time objectives opening a new scope of possibilities not constrained to idealized systems. The core of this thesis is based on the definition and application of Quality of Service (QoS) trade-offs between timeliness and other significant QoS metrics. The analysis of local and global trade-offs provides a step-by-step methodology identifying the correlations between these quality metrics. This association enables the definition of alternative trade-off configurations (set points) influencing the quality performance of the network at selected instants of time. With the basic grounds established, the above concepts are embedded in a simple routing protocol constituting a proof of concept for the validity of the presented analysis. Extensive evaluations under realistic scenarios are driven on simulation environments as well as real testbeds, validating the consistency of this approach.