Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Teenagers and Sleep

Thinklings is covering the current meme that kids, especially high school students, aren't getting enough sleep. The study which spawned all this discussion says:
The poll found that sixth-graders were sleeping an average of 8.4 hours on school nights and 12th-graders just 6.9 hours.
Nearly all youngsters, 97 percent, have at least one electronic item in their bedroom. These include television, computer, phone or music devices.
My first reaction was that the world is also still round. Kids stay out all night and don't get enough sleep. And they're disrespectful. Sumerian parents were inscribing such things on their clay tablets eons ago. It wouldn't surprise my if there are cave paintings somewhere that tranlate to "Boy take friends, hunt all night, no respect Dad."

I've been out of high school for a little over 10 years now. Back then I stayed up until 11 and had to get up before 6. I brought my average amount of sleep up on weekends by sleeping in until 10 or 11 on Saturdays. Sundays were (and still are) a wash because I had to get up for church. So I got less than the recommended 9 hours a night. Lord only knows how they derived a requirement for 9 hours a night. I suspect it was a bunch of parents saying "we need a good reason to tell our kids to go to bed so we can have sex/get some sleep ourselves."

Truth be told, I probably got more sleep than my peers at the time. I probably got at least an hour more sleep than most of them. Some did better because they drove to school. Some did worse and just kept going until they got sick and couldn't go to school.

I also had music available in my bedroom either from the radio or my cassette player. I rarely stayed up all night listening to it, but it happened. Sometimes I'd end up down stairs watching TV if I couldn't sleep.

So most of this stuff seems to be pretty constant. But what we didn't have was kids coming home, going to sleep, then waking up for dinner and chatting on the internet all night. My generation only had TV. There was little point being up until 4 because there wasn't anything to do after 1:30 or 2. And for the most part the internet was boring nerd-stuff. I did have a few friends who would stay up all night late playing MUDs, but for the most part my generations sleep habits were tied to TV.

What I learned from this whole thing is that my kids ain't getting TVs and computers in their rooms. Sorry. There is a time and place for staying up all night and playing on the internet. It's called college.

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