The XX Factor

Get Out of Bed, Teens!

On the New York Times ’ Motherlode blog, Lisa Belkin brings up an issue that seems to get play every late August/early September: whether or not high schools should begin later to cater to teens’ natural sleep cycles. I say: Get out of bed, adolescent lollygaggers!

Pro-late-starters say that teens are involved in fewer car accidents when school starts later because they get more sleep, and also that they can absorb material better because they are less tired. These are not insignificant benefits. However, the reason a lot of these kids are so exhausted is because they’re staying up far too late. I feel like a geezer saying this, but when I was a teen, I was able to wake up at 6:30 every morning, precisely because I went to sleep by 10 or 11 every night. I was really tired by the end of the day, and so didn’t stay up ‘til all hours dialing up AOL. I also walked 10 miles to school every day on broken glass. But seriously: If teens are going to school later and later, they won’t train their bodies to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Training their bodies is something that will be useful to them in adult life, not just in teen world. Parents out there: prove me wrong-do you wish your adolescents started school later? Or are you happy to shove ‘em out the door at 7 a.m.?

Photograph of a sleeping teen by Photodisc/Getty Images.