Not getting enough sleep at night can cause problems at school, work and at home.

The Average Bedtime for Teenagers

by Sharon Perkins

While you probably don't tuck your teen in bed any more at night, you might still worry about how much sleep he gets. The teen years might remind you of your child's first few months of life, where he had his days and nights mixed up. Many teens to want to stay up all night and sleep the better part of the day. Unfortunately, this schedule doesn't fit in with many normal activities, including going to school or work.

1. What Teens Need

Conventional wisdom -- such as that dispensed by the Mayo Clinic -- says that teens need about nine hours of sleep at night. But nearly 92 percent of teens report that they don't sleep that long at night, according to a May 2009 article published in the "Journal of School Health." In this study, 10 percent of adolescents claimed to get less than six hours of sleep per night. Some teens turn to sleeping pills, other medications or alcohol to help them get to sleep, all perilous ways to induce sleep in the long term.

2. Circadian Rhythms

The body's circadian rhythms are what make most of us feel sleepy at night and awake during the day. But when your child hits his teens, his circadian rhythms can change, causing sleep patterns to shift. Rather than getting tired by 8 or 9 p.m., as he did when he was younger, he now doesn't feel tired until 11 p.m. or so, MayoClinic.com explains.

3. Setting a Bedtime

If your child needs to get up early to get to school -- and most high schools do start early, around 7:20 a.m., according to a "Frontline" article -- he needs to go to bed no later than 10 p.m. to get the required amount of sleep. Getting your adolescent in bed this early won't be easy. But allowing him to stay up late and suffer the sleep deprivation consequences could be deadly. Not getting enough sleep can impair his driving ability and his school performance, not to mention how cranky and irritable he'll be.

4. Distractions

Electronics often keep teens up late at night. Whether your teen is texting friends, channel surfing or surfing the Internet, he's not sleeping. Removing the TV, computer and phone from his room is the best way to get your teen to actually go to sleep after he supposedly goes to bed at night. Keep things quiet in the house before bedtime -- this is not the time to start an argument on why he doesn't get enough sleep -- and dim the lights. Prevent him from taking more than a 30-minute nap during the afternoon and nix even that if it interferes with his night sleep, MayoCinic.com suggests. A bath or shower at night can also help your teen relax.

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