The stereotype that homeschooled kids do school in their pajamas may actually indicate better mental health. A new study finds that homeschooled kids sleep 90 minutes more, on average, than their non-homeschooled peers.
Homeschooled kids also sleep in later than public school students, which actually better fits a teen’s natural and necessary sleep patterns, says Lisa Meltzer, a Denver sleep psychologist and the study’s lead author.
“We have a school system that is set up so that the youngest children, who are awake very early in the morning, start school latest, and our adolescents, who need sleep the most, are being asked to wake up and go to school at a time when their brains should physiologically be asleep,” she said.
Teens need about nine hours of sleep a night she said, and it’s not as easy as telling them to go to bed earlier because their body clocks shift later during puberty.
“The logical solution is to allow [teens] to sleep later,” Meltzer said.
Fifty-five percent of homeschool teens in the study got the optimal amount of sleep per week, compared to just 24.5 percent of those who attend public and private schools. Forty-four percent of public and private school teens got insufficient sleep during the school week, compared to only 16 percent of homeschooled teens.
Meltzer recommended later school start times for high school, which she said has cut down tardies and increased graduation rates in schools that have tried it. Families should have teens turn off electronics a half hour to hour before bed, too, because their light and activity overstimulates brains.
“Study: Homeschool Students Sleep Better,” National Jewish Health, 2013: http://njhealth.multimedianewsroom.tv/story.php?id=549&enter=2#downloadsarea.