[COLUMN] The economic case for letting teenagers sleep a little later

An early start to the day for high schoolers has long been customary, but there are many arguments against it./GRETCHEN ERTL FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

By Aaron E. Carroll | The New York Times

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)

Many high-school-age children across the United States now find themselves waking up much earlier than they’d prefer as they return to school. They set their alarms, and their parents force them out of bed in the morning, convinced that this is a necessary part of youth and good preparation for the rest of their lives.

It’s not. It’s arbitrary, forced on them against their nature, and a poor economic decision as well.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that teenagers get between nine and 10 hours of sleep. Most in the United States don’t. It’s not their fault.

My oldest child, Jacob, is in 10th grade. He plays on the junior varsity tennis team, but his life isn’t consumed by too many extracurricular activities. He’s a hard worker, and he spends a fair amount of time each evening doing homework. I think most nights he’s probably asleep by 10 or 10:30.

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