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Parents, want your teens to get more sleep? You have the power Leonardi

Sleep deprivation is an epidemicamong adolescents, according to pediatricians, and new research from the University of Rochester suggests that parents have more power to change this than they may think.

For thestudy, nearly 200 teens aged 14 to 17 kept diaries about the length and quality of their sleep for one week.

Lead researcher Jack Peltz said the teens whose parents set and enforced a specific bedtime had the best sleep duration and quality, higher energy levels the next day, and fewer symptoms linked to depression.

"I had always hoped that parents could, if they engaged in this battle, in a sense, have a strong effect," he said, "and so that was really a pleasant surprise when we found that was true."

The study indicated that a consistent bedtime was an even bigger factor in determining a teen's sleep quality than limiting their exposure to electronic devices and caffeine.

"If there's a way of choosing your battles," explained Peltz, "perhaps choosing that battle over bedtime over those other things might be more effective."

Bedtime can, indeed, be a battleground for teens and their parents, so how does one get a teenager to stick to a specific bedtime when they don't want to?

Peltz said the best outcomes happen when kids and parents collaborate on the rules. 

Previous research shows that chronic sleep deprivation can increase anxiety and depression in adolescents, as well as suicidal thoughts and actions, sports-related injuries, and car crashes.                         

"There are a whole host of things that limit teen sleep," said Peltz, "from school start times, screen time, homework, socializing, even their work schedules."

The Webster Central School District put later start times in place for its middle and high schools in 2019.  The Brighton Central School District has been studying the issue.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.