Do Teens Need a Bedtime? Your Ideas Welcome

I've grown to resent August. It seems like it should still be vacation time, but where I live the kids head back to school in only a few days. As my kids grow older, it has become more and more difficult to make the transition from vacation to school. The big problem is sleep. They love it. They love to sleep in. And, yes, they love to stay up late. For my son entering high school, this means he will have to quickly make the transition from a leisurely breakfast at 9 a.m. (or later), to a mad dash out the door to catch the school bus at 6:15 a.m. 

My blood pressure is rising just thinking about the stress of getting him out the door on time in the morning. In the past I have tried a couple of methods to get him moving in the morning. Some work better than others:

  • gradually moving his "bedtime" earlier so he gets enough sleep and can wake up at 5:45 a.m.
  • giving a monetary fine for missing the bus when he is slow in the morning 
  • lots of yelling to keep him moving to catch his bus  (this works, but kills me)
  • setting a 10 p.m. "bedroom time" that requires my son to go to his room, but doesn't tell him when to fall asleep because I am learning this is impossible to do.

Many health experts including those at the Mayo Clinic recommend teens get 9 hours of sleep a night, but many teens routinely get only 6 1/2 hours. Their internal clocks do not match the early rising schedules required by many high schools. The circadian rhythm of teens has them programmed to fall asleep at 11 p.m. or later. Some progressive school districts in places like Minneapolis have figured this out and pushed back the school start times for high schools. 



My school district has no plans to adjust the schedule so high schoolers are not falling asleep in class. Even though elementary-age kids love to get up at the crack of dawn, many districts wouldn't think of moving their start time earlier so the older kids can start later. Why? Here's a my take on what the district leaders in my city have told concerned parents: We can't delay the start times for high school because the current schedule is the way it is has always been done. 


I am still looking for the rational in their justification, but I guess I have to be a district administrator to understand the logic.


I need your help making the transition from summer vacation to the early 6:15 bus pick up time. Please add your ideas in the comment section.   (You can read all of my Momathon Blog posts at

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