Like all of his friends, Ruben stayed up as late as he wanted to, which was not quite as late as he bragged to his friends but much later than his parents liked to admit. They had tried to enforce a nine o'clock bedtime, but it was difficult. When he was young, he feared that something would leap from his closet; when he was older, he insisted on staying up to finish homework. Moreover, they weren't certain that he needed more than seven or eight hours. Though he was a demon in the morning and they virtually had to drag him out of bed for school, he was energetic enough during the day, and at bedtime he was so rowdy they had to remind him again and again to settle down. His parents actually felt guilty for even worrying about his bedtime. The truth is, he tended to get so wild that they wanted him to go to bed so that they could get some rest.
Ruben had always been a typical kid and an above-average student, so his parents were surprised to learn that he actually displayed all of the classic signs of a chronically sleep-deprived child. Even his tendency to fall asleep in the car was a typical symptom. A study that compared how the same children scored on the same test after getting enough sleep and getting too little amazed them. Children's performance deteriorated dramatically when the researchers ranked them as sleep deprived, even though the children ranked themselves as having had plenty of sleep.
Don't let homework interfere with bedtime. Your tween needs to start getting ready for bed early enough to get a good night's sleep. If that means he must drop an extracurricular activity to free up time in the evening, so be it. Many tweens are overscheduled. The results are stress, sleep deprivation, and chronic crankiness.
At that point Ruben's parents decided to follow the recommended guidelines by setting a bedtime and enforcing it. They feared they would not succeed and would end up fighting the battle of the bedtime forever after. They were delighted to find that in less than two weeks, Ruben began going to bed without an argument. Thereafter, he still tested limits occasionally by complaining that the bedtime rule was designed to treat him like a baby, and he would beg to stay up to watch a TV show. But his parents were so impressed with the personality changes, they began forbidding him to attend sleepovers and have friends spend the night. Besides the crankiness the next day, after getting so off-schedule, it was hard to get him back into a routine again.