Working 4 You: Does your teen need more sleep?

Working 4 You: Does your teen need more sleep?

SPOKANE, Wash. - After a summer of staying up late and sleeping until noon, teenagers in Spokane are in for a rude awakening: Having to be awake and in class by 8 am. But doctors say that's a bad idea and there's a renewed call to start school later in the day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says teenagers should start school later because they simply need more sleep. The study suggests delaying the start of school to at least 8:30 for middle and high school students. Doctors say teenagers need more sleep than the rest of us, recommending eight and a half to nine and a half hours a night.

There are no plans to delay the start of school in Spokane, so what can you do to make sure your teenager is well-rested and ready to pay attention in class?

First, try adjusting the lights. Dimmer lights promote the start of sleep, so encourage your teenager to turn down the lights the closer it gets to bedtime.

Also, get them on a schedule. It's tough to do, but we're better off if we go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on the weekends. Sleeping until noon on Saturday can kill your sleep schedule for the school week.

Finally -- as hard as it might be -- help them understand when to unplug. Using electronics right up until you try to fall asleep can throw off your body's rhythm. Tell them to turn off the phone and take the TV out of their room if you have to.

If you try these things and your teenager is still exhausted, it may be a sign of something else, like sleep apnea or the side effect of medications. If you suspect something is wrong beyond the normal teenage drag, call your doctor.

For more information and ideas about helping your teenager get better sleep, check out this page from the National Sleep Foundation