Diary of a Lockdown, day 7: our teens have turned nocturnal

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Trees coming into leaf in the bracing North wind on Mitcham Common 29 March

We are barely seeing our teenagers, not because they are wrecklessly flouting the lockdown, but because they appear to have become nocturnal.

When their school closed nearly two weeks ago, I had all sorts of good intentions about getting them up at a reasonable time and encouraging them to follow something along the lines of a normal school day.  I tried various means of waking them: opening curtains, greeting them with a breezy ‘good morning’, offering to cook them breakfast, playing loud dance music outside their rooms. The responses were grunts and slight shifts of shapes under the duvet.

I am still getting up early to teach my morning yoga classes online – and so I’m getting to bed fairly early too. The result is a fairly short period of overlap during which the teens and I are both awake and fully conscious.  It’s one way to make sure we don’t get under each others’ feet, I suppose.

For a while, the boys had conceded I should get them up at noon – but the going forward of the clocks put paid to that.

“We need our sleep,” they moan. And it’s true. Teen brains are going through major changes in adolescence and need significantly more sleep than adults’ – nine and a quarter hours compared with seven and a half.  I would prefer those hours of sleep to start at, perhaps, midnight, but over the last 10 days I’ve heard the boys chatting and playing well into the wee small hours.

It’s long been argued that an early start to the school day, designed to meet the needs of parents’ workplaces, has a detrimental effect on teens’ learning and development. Perhaps the lockdown will turn out to be an experiment in what happens when teens get all the sleep they need – at least in our house.

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