Determine child's proper bedtime by next day's behavior


Q: My 10-year-old daughter has begun to complain about her bedtime, saying that she isn't sleepy. I insist that she go to bed at 8 on a school night like she always has. She says that all her friends get to stay up later and she should get to, too. What is TTC the right bedtime for a 10-year-old?

A: Neither your daughter's age nor what her friends do can tell you absolutely when she should go to bed. Most children need less sleep as they get older, and we think 8 o'clock sounds early for your daughter. You will need to consider when your child has to get up and how she acts during the day. If your daughter tries to go to sleep before she is sleepy, she will have difficulty getting to sleep. This may lead to frustration and sleeplessness. What happens if you let your daughter stay up later? If she awakens easily and is pleasant, is alert and interested all day at school, and has plenty of energy for after-school activities and homework, she is getting enough sleep.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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