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Older Kids Do Better When They Sleep In

I love Mondays–Late Start Mondays. On Monday my son’s high school doesn’t start until 8am and my daughter doesn’t have to get to middle school until 9:20. It’s so dreamy, since their normal start times are 7:30 and 8am.

A lot of people have this idea that teens and tweens are lazy–and they are. They don’t like to do the dishes or put away their clothes. But they aren’t lazy like you’d think. My son usually runs 10 miles a day. (He can also watch whole seasons of The Simpsons in a single sitting, as long as he has a very big bowl of cereal to sustain him.)

Teens and tweens actually have boundless energy. But they’re tired in the morning–not because they are lazy. They are tired because of that pesky P word: Puberty. It’s a gross word. I mean, PUBERTY.  Bleh. Poor kids. I hate it when my body goes all Alien on me.

Those hormones that make junior high so “fun” make teenagers secrete (ew–another gross word) melatonin later at night. Melatonin signals that it’s time to go to sleep. So, even though they might be rocking out late at night like a fledgeling punk rebel high on anarchy, the real reason they don’t feel tired is the melatonin. The later sleep signal causes a later “wake up” signal as well.

“All this makes bed time pretty challenging and pushes it to be very late, yet school doesn’t change,” says one psychologist in favor or later start times. “In general, teens need nine hours of sleep at night. Otherwise, they can end up chronically sleep deprived, and that daytime tiredness can harm their behavior and performance in school,” he noted.

Many of the stereotypical complaints we have about teenagers–moodiness, depression, inattention, inability to focus–are just side effects of sleep deprivation. Moodiness, depression, inattention, inability to focus . . . Sound like any new moms you know?

I wish every day were late start. I wish school were shorter. I wish my kids had less homework. I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller. I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat and a ’64 Impala. Such as it is, being the mom of 4 kids who go to school entails a lot of nagging and prodding about going to bed,  getting up, and getting their homework done.

7am comes early, my friend.

More of my writing at Kid Scoop:

It’s Not You, It’s Sleep

Unhappy Kids are More Materialistic

How Going to Church Helps Me Raise My Kids

Read more from me at Every Day I Write the Book.
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