NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Are your children getting enough sleep? New research shows nearly half of kids in the U.S. are not.

CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reports on why getting enough ZZZs is critical for children of any age.

Avi Wilensky has two boys – 4-year-old Morris and Jacob, who is almost 2 – and when it comes to bedtime…

“This one is very easy but this one is almost impossible,” said their dad.

Sarah-Jane Witchell says her 6-year-old is a complete nightmare when she doesn’t get enough sleep. So her secret to success is a good routine.

“We read stories, we brush our teeth, she kind of knows too that if she doesn’t follow the routine, it’s not fun for her,” said Witchell.

According to new research being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ national conference, a lot of kids need more rest.

Researchers surveyed parents of nearly 50,000 U.S. children ages 6 to 17 and found less than half are getting the recommended minimum of nine hours of sleep most weeknights.

“If a kid is getting enough sleep, then that kid has the opportunity to be better equipped for the day,” said pediatrician Dr. Ellen Rome. “That means stay on task in school, doesn’t melt down at the end of the day with mom and dad, is happier and is just flourishing.”


 

Parenting expert Julie Ross says adolescents who don’t get enough sleep can really be affected.

“They are more prone to mood disorders they’re more prone to anxiety, depression,” said Ross.

Experts say the key is to start early with good sleeping habits when they’re babies and toddlers. It gets a lot harder as they get older.

No screen time at least two hours before bed will help, and a simple step is to change digital clocks for the old analog ones. Ross says it helps children keep track of time.

“You look at it and you see the hand move, so it gives children a more concrete sense of the passage of time,” said Ross.

Teenagers are known for having bizarre sleep patterns, and Ross says that’s actually normal due to biological changes – so no need to stress out if your teens are going to sleep later than usual.

Experts say it’s also key for parents to beware of over-scheduling their children, which can make it even harder to get enough sleep.

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