Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

I'm putting my old man hat on again today to let you know that back in the day, when we had to get up before dawn in order to catch the bus to go to high school, we just did it, dammit! It beat the hell out of having to trudge through 3 feet of snow and walk 5 miles to school like our parents did!

Fairfax County parents are lamenting this week because they will probably have to scrap a costly plan to switch up the county's school bus schedule in order to allow teenagers more sleep time, and to go to school later in the morning. The rationale for this is that doctors have declared that teenagers need more sleep than they can get when classes start at 7:20am - and that they will perform better in school if they are more rested.

OK - I concede that this is probably true. I'm sure we all would perform better if we all had more sleep. But I would like someone to try and convince me that if teenagers didn't have to be at school until 9 am, that they would end up getting any more sleep than they do now. To me, that would just give them an excuse to stay up until midnight or later...

I actually like the idea of having teenagers getting up early in the morning. It creates a level of discipline and encourages sleep habits that will serve them well as adults - especially for teenagers who live in the suburbs, as I do, where long commutes are commonplace. Of course, I say this as someone who's wakeup time over the past 25 years has averaged at around 4 am.

My son, Brad, goes to bed by 9:30 every night, and rolls out of the sack at 5:15 am. He does go to bed earlier than any of his friends, but he is also a straight-A student, and most of his friends are not. Brad would certainly like to be able to go to bed later during the week, but he recognizes that sleep is an important commodity, and he doesn't gripe about going to bed relatively early.

Rather than spending millions to further coddle our teenagers, I say send 'em to bed early!

They'll thank you later.