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Two-Thirds of American Teens Need More Shut-Eye
Date:1/8/2010

night. Another 23.5 percent reported getting eight hours a night, but just 7.6 percent got nine or more hours, which is considered the optimal amount for teenagers, according to the study.

Almost three-quarters of the females in the study reported getting insufficient sleep compared to two-thirds of the males.

The researchers found racial differences as well, with 69.2 percent of whites, 71.2 percent of blacks and 65.6 percent of Hispanics reporting insufficient sleep.

Teens also tended to sleep less as they got older, the study found. Just under 58 percent of ninth graders said they got insufficient sleep, but by 12th grade that percentage had risen to more than 78 percent.

Eaton said that while the study wasn't designed to find out what's keeping teens up at night, other research has suggested that teen employment, social activities, caffeine consumption, sleep disorders and early school start times all likely play a role in teens' lack of sufficient sleep.

Another previous study, this one from the June 2009 issue of Pediatrics, found that the more electronic devices an adolescent had in the bedroom, the less sleep a teen tended to get. This same study also found that one-third of teens feel asleep at least twice during the school day.

So, what can parents do to help their teens get enough shut-eye?

"First, recognize that sleep is very important. Kids today have a lot of competing demands for their time, but it's extremely important that teens get eight or more hours of sleep -- optimally nine hours or more," Eaton said.

Both Eaton and Pletcher said it's important to establish consistent sleep and wake times, and a bedtime routine. Pletcher said that ideally, you'll have established a bedtime ritual or routine earlier in childhood that can be continued throughout the teen years.

Eaton recommended that teens go to sleep before 10 p.m. on school nights. But, Pletcher ac
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