NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Kids are so cute when they’re asleep, but if they don’t get enough shut-eye, they can turn into little monsters.

CHKD sleep specialist Dr. Michael Strunc stresses the importance of sleep for better learning, better relationships and safer driving for teens.

“So, the risk of having of having car accidents is increased dramatically if you are sleep deprived,” Strunc said. “You go with 6 or 4 hours of sleep for a handful of days, that’s the equivalent of being legally drunk for kids or adults.”

How much sleep your child needs varies by age and the individual. In general, Strunc recommended anywhere from 9-12 hours for pre-k through elementary age kids, and 8-9 hours for teenagers.

Strunc advised parents do three things: Turn off technology at least one hour before bedtime, build a bedtime routine and enforce it.

“If we do that as a ritual consistently, it makes the transition to falling asleep much easier for little ones, and for bigger ones,” Strunc said.

The routine may include: brushing your teeth, putting on pajamas, reading or some other relaxing activity.

“Having dim light, some white noise, like a fan that’s running in their room that’s boring, is great to help your brain turn off,” Strunc added.

He also insisted on no cell phones after lights out which can be difficult for the teens.

“Some of that is almost anxiety driven,” Strunc said. “If I’m not on TikTok, or checking my texts, [then] I’m missing out on things … and some kids are really anxious or nervous the next day — ‘Why weren’t you answering this text?’ You can tell your friends, ‘Love you, but I’ll be signing off at this time.'”

Once they wake up and realize being better rest makes them better in school, in sports and in relationships with friends and family, going to bed may not be such a struggle.

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