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Readers Respond: Top Ways to Encourage Your Teen to Go to Sleep at a Reasonable Time

Responses: 16

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Quick Links: Quiz: Are you raising a healthy teen? | Teen Wellness

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that teens get a little more than nine hours of sleep per night. How do you encourage your teen to go to sleep at a reasonable time?

Kids going to bed

I have a 15 year old child that only stays up intill 8:30 at night because that's our house rule
—Guest Gracie7651

It's their responsibility

Kids need to learn responsibility, and set rules for themselves. I have six kids. At the beginning of every school year, I sit down with my middle schoolers and set a bedtime for schooldays. Charlotte and Jane wake up at 6, and they both decided at the beginning of the year that they would like their bedtime to be at 10, so that they would get 8 hours of sleep on school nights. I make them stick to that schedule so that they get enough sleep. They made that commitment at the beginning of the year, and are expected to keep it. I actually created a contract with my 12 and 14 year old daughters, saying that if they don't go to bed at the bedtime that they set, they will lose their phone for the weekend. Trust me, it works. Charlotte only got her phone taken away once this entire year, and Jane hasn't at all. They like setting their own bedtime because it makes them feel in control. On the weekend, they don't have a bedtime because that is a time for them to have fun!
—Guest Kat

Early to bed: more sleep, less stress!

Sometimes people forget that teens are in fact still children. Though every child is different, starting healthy habits at a young age will pay dividends later in life. Our girls are 14 and 16 years old, and they are both asleep in bed by 7:30 each night (bedtime was 7pm until they were 12). They get up earlier now that they are older though and often use morning time to finish homework. This schedule works great for us because we get more time to relax at night, and our daughters get the rest they need. We keep to this schedule in the summer as well, even though bedtime is before dark.
—Guest Mother of two girls

bedtime

I have a 16 year old daughter and her bedtime is 9:30pm on school nights. And is to be in pajamas by 9:15pm.
—Guest soccermom

Let Them Go

As a mom of a 17 year old girl in 5 AP classes, I know teens have huge workload every night, so when I go to bed at 9:30, she stays up until long after doing her usual 7-9 hours of homework, going to bed around 1 am, and waking up at 6:30 in the morning. I know she strugges to wake up and get through the day, but I try not to be too intrusive so as not to distract her from school, as it is her top priority. She makes up for lost sleep on weekends, and since school is so important, she rarey complains. she simply says she can sleep at college. I think it would be horrible parenting for me to tell her to sleep instead of doing her homework, and she would not be happy if her grades fell.
—Guest soccermom

Encourage Your Teen to Go to Bed

My son is 13. He goes to bed very early at 8.00 PM. I help him to wake at 5am. It is important for us because we need to get ready and go to school and to work on time. We avoid TV, computer games during school days.
—Guest mary chimy

Responsibility

I've never had a problem with my kids waking early in the morning. I don't set a bed time and I never have if there tired in the morning when the got to get up for school. That's their problem they know their body best and they know a reasonable time to go to bed. It gives them responsibility to set there own bed time, parents are way too over protective and nosy now a days and kids need there space I don't go through their facebooks, phones, or internet history on their laptops like a lot of parents do. Its just not right, they deserve their privacy.
—Guest greg

10:00 PM Bedtime

My son is 14 and he has to go bed at 10:00. He follows the rule but is for sure not happy with it. He complains from time to time, because of peer pressure. He pushes very hard for staying up later, at least for 10:30, but we stay on our rule. One more thing: no iPod and no cell phone in his room at bedtime during the week, so we are sure he goes to sleep.
—Guest Guest Mom of a 14 yr old

bedtime

My son is 11 he goes to bed at 9 or so we thought he stays up until 10 playing on his phone or on his laptop. So I said no more the rule is if your caught with it past 9:30 it is taken away.
—Guest Jennifer Bliven

Summer Without Sleep

Try to get your teen a job, even a job with a friend or a house close by is good. This will help to set an early rise time. Any job will do - gardening is a good one. Farmers may need help, even work with little or no pay gets the teens up and at work.
—Guest sleepy dad

Teen Bedtime Thoughts

I believe that teens under the age of 16 should have a bedtime between 9 and 9:30. Sometimes, they only want to go to bed later because of peer pressure. In the morning they can not function when they don't get enough sleep. It's up to us parents to set up those rules and we shouldn't feel bad about it because we want to know that they are all right when they walk out the door. They will have a clear mind and will be able to concentrate in class better when they are wide awake and not falling asleep at their desk. After 16, a little later is good as I know from experience that they have more homework to do. 10 to 10:30 is reasonable. With my kids, a good thing that worked is that they only had one hour of TV and one hour of computer use on schooldays. It had to be used after homework was done. Everyone had to be in their room by 9. They could read if they wished to or if they had time left before their bedtime. That helped them relax at end the day in a calm atmosphere.
—fleurdelis3

Time to Connect

I like the comment about reading to her teen. I have a soon to be 14 yr old daughter and we do that sometimes too. We like the un-interrupted time to just be together, talk, joke around, share what's going on in both of our lives, etc. We have similar tastes in books so it's nice to share and then we have something in common to talk about during the day too. Sometimes we watch one TV show together before bed. As long as I make myself available for approximately 30 minutes to connect with her, she's more willing/able to go to sleep.
—Guest Mom of 2

A Nice Way to End the Day

I also have trouble getting my 15 year old daughter to bed. I don't like going to bed before her because then she stays up even later. But I have to get to sleep as I get up early. One thing that works sometimes and might not work for all, is that I will read to her. For a while we did this every night (yes, at age 15) and it really calmed her down and we also had some really nice conversations that came up in relation to what we were reading. I'm trying to get this going again, as I hate her to end her day on the computer. It was a nice way to end the day.
—bathmemom

A Teen Doctor's Response

As a specialist in adolescent medicine and a mother of teens, I would suggest that parents teach their children important relaxation techniques early and often. Teens often cannot "settle" themselves to sleep at a reasonable time after they have spent the evening multi-tasking and working on a screen. They need to learn how to separate from the media and get themselves into a calmer state with lowered heart rate, blood pressure and thoughts.
—AnnEngellandMD

Bedtime Before Parent's Bedtime

This has been a topic of discussion at our house as of late. My son is 14 & his bedtime is 9:30 on most week nights. He has been complaining to us because most of his friends have a 10 or 10:30 bedtime...during the week! Our house rule is that the kids aren't allowed to stay up later then we do, so if we go to bed so do they. In this day & age of technology & all that is available for teens, we want to know what's going on & if we're asleep we can't monitor activities. We also have a compliant child who may not always agree with our decisions, but does follow the rules.
—Guest Boy's Mama

Log Your Teen's Sleep Pattern

As we know, each child is different and not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. Monitoring your child and their sleep habits can give you a good place to start. Have your teen log his bedtime, the time he awakens and how he feels for a week or more can give you both a realistic view of what he needs. This activity can help your teen feel like he has a say in the matter and less like mom and dad are just making more rules.
—MsOnyx

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