Sleep is often underrated until you don’t get enough and can barely think straight.

Teens often miss getting the recommended amount of uninterrupted hours of sleep and then find that they have a hard time focusing in school.

Previous research has suggested that some kids may have lower levels of the sleep prompting hormone melatonin, as they become teenagers.

So, other than medication, what can help teens sleep longer and better? A new study suggests that having involved parents and feeling connected to school increase a teen’s likelihood that he or she will get sufficient sleep.  The researchers found that shared bonds, including relationships with parents and friends, may actually have a stronger impact on changing sleep patterns in teens than biology.

"My study found that social ties were more important than biological development as predictors of teen sleep behaviors," David Maume, a sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, said in a news release from the American Sociological Association.

Research included data from 1,000 kids from age 12 to 15 years old. During those years, Maume found that the participants average sleep duration diminished from nine hours of sleep to less than eight. He also discovered that when parents established a routine bedtime and stuck to it, their teens developed healthier sleep habits.

"Research shows that parents who keep tabs on their kids are less likely to see them get into trouble or use drugs and alcohol," Maume said. "My findings suggest a similar dynamic with sleep. Parents who monitor their children's behavior are more likely to have kids that get adequate rest. Given that children generally get less sleep as they become teenagers, parents should be ever more vigilant at this stage," he added.

Another important discovery was that the teens who felt a part of their school or had friends that liked school and were positive, social people, ended up sleeping longer and enjoyed a better quality of sleep.

"Teens who have pro-social friends tend to behave in pro-social ways, which includes taking care of one's health by getting proper sleep," Maume said.

When teenagers have trouble sleeping, doctors often recommend prescription drugs to address the problem, he noted. "My research indicates that it's necessary to look beyond biology when seeking to understand and treat adolescents' sleep problems," Maume said. "Such an approach may lead to more counseling or greater parental involvement in teens' lives, both of which are less invasive than commonly prescribed medical solutions and, at least in the case of parental involvement, cheaper."

If your teen is having trouble falling to sleep at night, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that he or she for at least two weeks, cut out television, video games and internet access within two hours of a bedtime to allow your teen to sleep a total of 8 hours a night. Also make sure to talk to your teen about cutting out all caffeinated beverages after lunch. Some of the more popular beverages these days contain extreme amounts of caffeine that can cause insomnia.

The study was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Source: Health Day,