Your Child’s Health: Is your teen getting 8-9 hours of sleep every night?

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CLEVELAND-- Our teens are getting more and more tired.  Sleep experts say that teenagers should be getting eight to nine hours of sleep a night.   But, an estimated thirty to fifty percent of teens are like Charra Thompson, 17, of Cleveland who gets about six or seven hours of sleep a night.   She feels the lack of sleep affects her. "I don't get enough energy that I need.  And, I think I need more energy for the day,” she said.

Dr. Carol Rosen of the Pediatric Sleep Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s said getting enough sleep is as important as diet and exercise for teen’s overall health. "If you're short on sleep, it gives you a very negative impact on your mood, your focus, your attention, your school work, increased risk of accidents,” Dr. Rosen said.

Charra has a good idea why today’s teens don’t get enough sleep: “Electronics,” she said, smiling.

Dr. Rosen agrees.  Her number one recommendation for teens: make your bed a 'sleep only' zone.  "Some of those newer electronics like your iPad give you lots of light, late-night light.  And that late-night light moves your clock even further,” Dr. Rosen added.

Charra's mom found a way to turn off the cell phone at night. “The battery comes out of her phone and she has to plug it into this device.  So, her phone never goes off at night anymore. She’s sleeping -- so, she's actually sleeping now," Regina Thompson said.

Another good sleep rule:  keep a regular schedule weekdays and weekends. Dr. Rosen said your wake-up time should not vary by more than two hours. "What typically happens in teenagers is they are short on sleep all week long and then on the weekend they oversleep.  But, they stay up even later and oversleep and that even further jet lags their biological clock,” Dr. Rosen said.

Sleep-deprived teens has become a real 'eye-opener.' The Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending a later school start time for teens.

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