How Late Should A Teenager Sleep in the Summer?

Okay, I have parenting questions for the Apt. 11d Peanut Gallery.

School ended last Thursday, and I’m losing my mind already. Jonah, who is now 16, would like to sleep until 2. Ian, Steve, and I are up at 6:30.

There are practical reasons for losing my mind about this eight-hour time difference. It makes group family activities difficult. It means that nobody is eating meals at the same time, and thus, the sink is perpetually gross.

And there are more emotional reasons for losing my mind. I’m working my ass off, and the punk kid is sleeping! Arg!

Should we have a compromise hour for waking, like 9 or 10? Should I let him sleep until 2? Should I enlist him in a military academy?

22 thoughts on “How Late Should A Teenager Sleep in the Summer?

  1. Oooh, I want to hear everyone’s answers, too.

    I wake up my teen, who is younger, at 9 AM. My main reason: I want child to be awake at the rest time as the rest of the family. Other associated reasons, I want her to get some chores done during the day (so they are useful to others); I want to see her and talk to her myself. And, summer is not so long that a schedule incompatible with the rest of her life is good.

    I’m waking her up even though she’s unscheduled right now, but if that didn’t work, I’d make her take on some morning scheduled activities so that she had to wake up.

    But, I do have to note that I am generally acknowledged to be the meanest mother ever.


    1. “Other associated reasons, I want her to get some chores done during the day (so they are useful to others);”

      Yes! A 2PM wakeup cleverly misses the bulk of chore, music practice, and academic work hours.


      1. Well, academics could occur from 11PM-1AM, potentially. But, music practice and unloading the dishes can’t, not when everyone else is asleep. I do think, in addition to whatever the physiological needs might be, that kids want to shift schedules to nighttime in order to avoid us parents.


  2. I’d kick him out of bed at 10 unless you have some sort of earlier family activity planned, in which case kick him out of bed whenever you need to (but no earlier).

    He genuinely does have different sleep needs than the rest of the family (I’m sure you’ve seen the articles about the teen sleep clock), but at the same time, he needs to remain within a couple hours of a normal human schedule, or the fall is going to be a nightmare.

    I think my 13-year-old sleeps from 10/10:30 PM to 9ish during the summer unless we have something actually planned for the morning. The 10-year-old says he gets up around 7:30 AM. (The kids wanted to know why I asked. I said, “It’s a mom conspiracy thing. You wouldn’t understand.”

    I wouldn’t get all moralistic about this, but 2PM is ridiculous.


  3. Is he asleep or is he in his room with the door closed?

    School’s not out here yet till Thursday.

    I don’t see a point in monitoring their sleep too much. My kids have some things to do some weeks, and some weeks that are free, so it all evens out.


  4. Does he have a job or educational activity? We have always required our daughter to have a job or educational activity for pretty much the whole summer, starting at age 13 or 14. During the one or two week intervals between school getting out and the job or activity starting, we let her sleep as long as she wants.


  5. Both my girls are early risers. Maybe one day a week someone sleeps in until ten. Two is right out unless the late sleeper is super-productive during his or her waking hours. Teen has job, yes? If not the graveyard shift, teen should be awake and busy by mid-morning on weekdays. If no job, teen contributes to household needs in some way, shape or form which probably means two p.m. stirring is right out. (Disclaimer: some individuals sleep until 2pm and are amazingly productive, organized and capable. If your kid manages to contribute to family life and keep usefully busy otherwise while sleeping in that late, kudos.)

    I’d offer a short staycation for the kid winding up the school term, i.e. for the first weeks of summer you will let him wallow in sleep as late as he wants but by [insert date here] h he needs to be up on weekdays at a reasonable hour and participating on a family-friendly schedule.

    Also, there is also no reason why a teen should leave dirty dishes in the sink. Remind him of the functionality built into dish soap and scrubbies. He’s doing his own laundry now, too, isn’t he? In a few years, he’ll be off at university and will need to manage all of this so let him think of summer as the time to show he’s got the skills to go away to college!


    1. “Also, there is also no reason why a teen should leave dirty dishes in the sink.”

      Well, there is if their parents do the same. 🙂 #badrolemodels 😉 But we do have the kids do their own laundry, which works most of the time. Usually, though, at 9 pm on Sundays, someone is doing his or her laundry. They also make a lot of their own meals, but only because they refuse to eat what I make. As they get older, I grow lazier. Ahem, I mean, more adept at teaching them independent living skills.


  6. Didn’t he get a job? Once that starts he’ll get himself there the same way he gets himself to school.
    As long as teens have a few days to decompress after school ends, work is like a vacation to them. There is no homework. Evenings if its a M-F job are yours. I worked 30-40 hrs per week in summer and always enjoyed my summers as I just had to show up at a job and there were no papers due or tests.

    As long as chores are done I would not monitor sleeping time. As I recall, as. teen I considered myself too old for “family” activities and my parents did exempt me from many of them unless it involved relatives visiting or church. (I did go to mass with my friends. In our community once you were a teen it was uncool to be seen at mass with your parents unless it was Christmas or Easter.)


  7. Jonah got a job, but couldn’t take it. It was a ten-week commitment and was going to interfere with cross country practice and SAT class. By the time that got sorted out, it was too late to apply for other things. All he has is running practice and SAT class this summer. Too much free time. He does have chores. He has to mow the lawn and help out with Ian. He has to read his book on Marcus Aurelius. We’ll do some college tours. But there isn’t enough structure to the summer.


    1. Is there anything he wants for which he could hustle the money baby sitting or doing some sort of domestic work? My friends with younger children all seem to have child care crises in the summer. My sister pays a 17 year old to take her kids to the local pool two afternoons a week. The sitter is using the money for her art supplies (she attends an arts magnet school and supplies are pricey.)


  8. I feel like I’m also running a pretty lax ship so far (we’ve had a month of summer vacation already), but by the end of the summer, the kids will have done a lot of different things. My husband somehow got drafted to teach three week-long summer enrichment classes (middle school and high school), which adds an extra level of complexity to everything. There’s more screen time for everybody than I had envisioned, but the big kids are doing good things.

    I don’t know how this is going to pan out, but we’ve floated the idea to the big kids that they could wash two big windows and a glass door for us (along with washing some screens), inside and out. The windows are ones that I look at every day and think–wow, that’s dirty! We’re offering the two big kids $15 each to do the whole job. As we would have to supply them with materials, instruction and listen to any ensuing whining, it’s debatable whether or not this is a good deal. But it’s potentially very educational…

    Big girl has done a week-long cooking class already and has made us French toast for dinner once or twice.


  9. I am not a parent, but I have a husband whose sleeping patterns are like that of a teen. My two cents — two days a week let him sleep until he wants. Every other day…. up by 9 a.m. If there was a way to kill the internet at 11:30 p.m. it might be help drive home the idea that night is for sleeping. If Jonah still can’t sleep, he can always read. And then it just occurred to me that video games could still be played….which isn’t interesting to me, but I assume would be to him.

    There is nothing wrong with keeping common hours with your family and society. I still say wake up at 9 a.m.. But I’m a hard-ass.


  10. If he wants to do a science major, all those 8 AM classes will KILL him. (I’ve even heard of a pre-8 AM class for computer science. 7:30?)

    I wonder how many college kids wash out of the hard sciences just because of 8 AM classes…


  11. Should–is a question for a doctor, maybe? When my kids were 13-14, I let them sleep as late as they wanted until the middle of August, except on days when we had a family outing planned-and that was mostly the occasional weekend, since I worked M-F 8-5. In mid-August I’d start easing them back to school schedule.

    You are as much a part of the family as they are, and maybe it could be a negotiation? My mother used to say R.H.I.P (rank hath its privileges) but the older mine got, the less I pulled rank, because I wanted to raise independent human beings who helped because they wanted to and felt it was their duty, not because I made them.


    1. Forgot to add why I limited it to 13-14: at about 14 they each decided to move in with their dad for high school. We had divorced when they were 5 and 9.


  12. I am generally merciful for the first week or two, after teens return home from school. I knew how very little sleep they chose to take while at school.* They do their own laundry and purge belongings from their rooms before they go to college, so that we can use their rooms as guest rooms.

    Having said that, the older two have chosen to set up activities which will keep them out of our house for much of the summer. Those activities call for them to get up at normal hours. I think I’ll have them “at home” for 3-4 weeks in all. During those 3-4 weeks, it’s ok with me if they sleep late. However, if they’re sleeping late because they chose to stay up late, they get no mercy if I need them up anytime after 6:30 the next morning.

    *Which is to say that both chose to set up demanding course and extracurricular schedules. They were terminally short of sleep, by choice.


  13. Tough crowd! If I had children I would let them sleep til 11. Much later than that borders on obscene. In addition to the numerous studies showing teens have different body clocks, I am not an early riser. My preferred wake up time is around 8:30/9 am. This morning I awoke at 9:30! That said, family activities are important. I’m not sure why 9 am seems to be everyone’s recommended wake up time. Common’ it’s summer!!!


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