Teenagers need more sleep

Bedtimes and the “Real World”

Bedtimes schedule by age and time of waking.


This Sleeping “Bedtimes”  Schedule was hot on Facebook recently and when I saw it I literally laughed out loud, then shook my head. I was reading through the comments, and this one caught my attention:

“I think it’s vitally important they get all the rest their bodies need, so that means they’re up later than the “outside” world… about 8. If they were to get up earlier they’d need to be in bed by 7, but that’s just not practical for our family. My only concern is this… will this make them not morning people when they’re adults that have jobs requiring them to be awake much earlier?” (Note: this was a thread on a Homeshcooling/Unschooling Facebook Page)

The sentence that struck me the most is “Will this make them not morning people when they’re adults that have jobs requiring them to be awake much earlier?”  Hmm? I know plenty of people who attended school for 12+ years, having to get up very early, who today are not morning people. If you’re not a morning person you either find a job that allows you to sleep in or make your own hours or you get up and get to your job or learn very quickly that you won’t have it for long otherwise.

“I can’t help noting that no cultures in the world that I have ever heard of make such a fuss about children’s bedtimes, and no cultures have so many adults who find it so hard either to go to sleep or wake up.”               -John Holt


As an un-schooling family we allow our children to regulate their own bedtimes and wake times because we believe all bodies are on different clocks and need different amounts of sleep at different times in their lives. We are lucky that most of our days are not controlled by anything outside our own choosing. Many mornings our teens are not up until between 9 and 10 O’clock.  Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. However, when presented with something that motivates them positively, or with enough notice, they are up plenty early as needed.  When I’ve heard the pros and cons of Unschooling come up in conversation, often the topic of bedtimes comes up.  It’s assumed and accepted that one needs 12 years of being forced to wake up at a certain time to enable them to do so for a job later in life, in the ‘real world’. I don’t buy it at all. Speaking for myself during schooling years, all this did was start my day off poorly, assist in helping me to fall asleep at my desk and add to the stress level of myself and my family.

I believe that if a person is driven by something they’re interested in and that something starts at an early hour a choice will be made to either choose something that starts later or they will learn to get up earlier. The only reason this sleep schedule is necessary  is by prescribing to a system that requires us to wake up before our body is ready. Children and teenagers need this sleep to learn and develop. If you do a simple search you’ll find many studies showing that teens and even adults need later start times to their day. You’ll find that schools that have implemented later start times find improvements in students functionality.  I can’t help but find it funny that we need studies for this. If we pay attention to how we feel, how our children feel, the amount of stress that takes place around bedtimes and wake times, it’s pretty obvious that we’ve forced a schedule around a culture of work and school times.




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