There’s bad news for parents who are looking to get a little more shut eye at night, regardless if they have a toddler or a teenager in the house: it might never happen. That’s because there’s a second wave of sleep deprivation that no one ever talks about: the late teen and high school years. Many moms and dads find themselves just as tired trying to shuffle their teens out the door in order to make it to school on time as they did back when they were still newborns.
Many high school students across the country start school as early as 7:15 am each day, and that’s not always easy. While there are many high school students who by now have learned how to responsibly get up, get ready for school and get out of the door on time, parents still feel the need to monitor them in the mornings to make sure the process moves swiftly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, this also means that both parents and their teens get less sleep during the high school years than they did while their kids were still babies. That’s because they have much more demanding schedules, more extra-curricular activities, and so forth. And as far as parents are concerned, there’s more of a chance that at least one spouse has gone back to work full-time, which means they spend even less time at home, but do double the work and household chores in the evenings.
In comparison, many moms stay at home with their babies and toddlers during the early stages in their lives. This gives them more time to catch up on their sleep, if they are lucky enough to get it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended later school start times for teenagers, but so far that hasn’t happened. At least, not in every school district yet.
"Most teens cannot sleep before 11 p.m. or midnight," Dr. Deborah Gilboa told Today Parents in an interview, adding, "and their bodies need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep throughout middle and high school for growing and health. Fifty-nine percent of middle schoolers and 87 percent of high schoolers get less sleep than that."
With that being said, there is hope. California has just proposed a new law that would ban middle and high schools from starting before 8:30am. In 2017, the Seattle Public school district moved their start times to 8:45am.
Even if a child is self-sufficient, at least one parent needs to be available with school transportation or other needs and necessity. In other words, that early alarm bell can turn into a rude wakeup call much later in the parenting years, too.