Can you turn early risers into kids that sleep late?

My friends are always shocked that my kids are still asleep at 9 or 10 in the morning during the summer. It’s partially because I let them stay up too late, but I also think it’s partially internal wiring. Michael and I are late-night people, and we always have a hard time getting up in the morning.

We know several couples who have adopted kids, and it’s interesting to study whether sleep patterns are inherited or situational. One of the couples had a daughter on their own before they adopted. The first daughter was always an early riser and the adopted daughter seems to follow suit. Could her birth-mother have been an early riser or is she just hearing her sister wake up and adjusting to the family’s pattern? The other couple has two adopted children and what’s interesting is when the second child came two years later, he completely mimicked the older child’s patterns.

Are sleep patterns genetic? Do they rise when they hear you rise so they seem genetic? Can you reprogram them to sleep later or get up earlier by just adjusting their bedtime at night?

43 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
5:48 am

I am not someone who sleeps in ( also a very light sleeper)….8:00 is pretty late for me. My kids have been now to sleep in with the best of them and through anything….even on Christmas morning! My sister can sleep until 9:00 but her kids have always been known to wake up early. So, who knows? I do not….LOL.

Since college and his wacky work and class schedule, my son has been having trouble falling asleep. I hope this evens out when his life gets on more of a routine. When I have a lot on my mind, I cannot too fall asleep. I have tried every kind of sleeping pill and NONE work for me. Most tell me this is how it is when you turn 50…great!

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
5:49 am

ooops….”My kids have been known….” sorry guess I need more sleep LOL

Jennifer

July 16th, 2009
6:15 am

I am a natural night owl, which translates into not being able to get up very early. But I’ve trained myself to get up at 5am so I can get to work early and, thus, leave early. I do this because I’d like as much time in the afternoon as possible for: (1) homework for my son, (2) chores, (3) exercise, and (4) cooking a real dinner.

But every now and then my body revolts and I have a month where I just can’t get up early and get moving. And I have to re-train myself.

My son gets up pretty easily no matter what time you wake him. But left to his own devices he won’t get up until 9:30. Then again, this entire summer he hasn’t gone to bed before 11pm. Not that he’s up running around. But with football practice starting and the coaches taking advantage of it being summer they don’t finish practice until 8, which translates into a late bath, late dinner, late piano practice, late reading, late math worksheet, etc.

But during the school year we seem to be able to get into a routine where he’s up by 7am and in bed by 9:30pm.

jct

July 16th, 2009
7:51 am

I don’t think it is genetic. I have a sister who is 13 months younger than me. I have been a morning person (according to my mother) since birth. I like to go to bed at 10 p.m. and I am up at 6 a.m. Staying in bed until 7 a.m. feels like I am sleeping late.

My sister on the otherhand has always been a night owl. She is a SAHM who still does not get up before 9 a.m. (Her children are 18 and 19).

We shared a room growing up. It was horrible. However, it was great when I got to college because I learned to sleep through anything.

My son was night owl. He just doesn’t like to move before 11 a.m. We are so glad he is out of high school. He missed the bus on most days and would end up walking (I was not going to drive him because he would not get up).

I do think that most of us are wired at birth how we are going to be and it is difficult to change.

Andrea

July 16th, 2009
8:16 am

@jct: What does SAHM mean? Just curious.

I don’t think sleep patterns are genetic because I think those types of behaviors are learned. One may have a preference for sleeping late or rising early, but I don’t think it is genetic.

My kids are early risers because their bedtimes are so rigid (meaning I don’t waiver) and have been since birth. During the summer months and school vacations, my parents host “Camp Happy” for their grandkids and they do let them stay up late. But, mine are so used to going to bed early, they couldn’t stay up if you paid them!

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
8:41 am

Not trying to hijack but here is a sort of related but outside question…..due to going to bed a getting up patterns and out of courtesy, I almost NEVER call anyone after 9:00 or before 9:00 a.m. ( I call it my 9:00 rule ) unless it is an emergency or a business ( like my Doctor) that I know is open in the a.m. and that I need to contact.

It irks me when folks call me at 9:30 p.m. and usually I will not answer the phone as I will get all wound up from talking and then not be able to go to sleep. My husband sometimes answers for me and tells them I am not taking calls…that irks some callers.

Now, if our car lights are on, you see our dog out of the yard or our garage door is open at 11:00, then certainly I would love for anyone to call but not just for a chat….is it just me? I once had a client call me at 10:30, to tell me that there was airline special on today….ending at midnight and that she wanted me to book my flight ASAP. I told her that I was…emphasize was….asleep and that I would have to take my chances as her meeting was not for a few months…..LOL. She apologized.

Family members get a bit of an exception but there are times I will not talk to my sister if she calls at 9:45 just to chat…she knows that I try to wind down and get ready for bed and is fine with it.
Have some manners just gone by the wayside in our ME world?

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
8:44 am

Andrea…sahm = stay at home mom. I love kids on a predictable routine and even thought I would not get mine up at 7:00, during the summer, they did get up not later than 8:30 when they were small.

Camp Happy is hilarious…could I be invited? Kudos to your folks!

penguinmom

July 16th, 2009
8:46 am

SAHM = Stay at home Mom

LT

July 16th, 2009
8:47 am

I don’t think genetics have anything to do with it. Sleeping patterns maybe, but some kids are just more motivated to get up. Kids are a lot smarter than you think. My preschooler can’t be dragged out of the bed during the week because he knows he’s going to daycare, but on Saturdays and Sundays he’s up with the sun, well before the time he usually gets up during the week. It’s one of my life’s real cruelties!!

I’ve tried everything to get him to sleep in on the weekends. I hung blankets over his windows to keep the sun out, we let him stay up really late. We tire him out, he takes no naps on weekends. Makes no real difference at all. He’s up for Saturday morning cartoons first thing, then Monday morning he’s right back to wanting to stay in bed.

Stan

July 16th, 2009
8:51 am

Sleep is environmental IMO. I have worked, at one time or another every shift there is, and I adjust to it accordingly. My prefrence is to get up by 7am even on the weekend but I will sleep late if I haven’t gotten enough sleep during the week.

MJG, make sure everyone knows your 9-9 rule, within reason of course. I don’t call anyone after 10 as a rule and expect the same in return unless I know they are up or if I know they go to bed early. I don’t call my mom after 8 because I know she goes to bed early. Of course there are always exceptions.

jct

July 16th, 2009
9:08 am

I am with MJG on the 9/9 rule. My sister, of course, still calls me late. Last night she called me at 10 p.m. just to chat. Of course I was already in bed. Some things never change…

Kathy

July 16th, 2009
9:12 am

I am not convinced about the genetic aspect. And I am totally convinced that you cannot reprogram! I have been trying to do that with Little E for months and it is not working. It does not matter what time I put that child to bed she is up at 7 every morning!!! Some days that is fine, but some mornings if she would sleep til 8 that would be heaven for me!!!

I do believe however, that some people (like myself) have excellent internal clocks. If I have it in my brain that I need to be up at a certain time, I don’t need to set the alarm clock, my body just wakes up at that time. My husband on the other hand needs the alarm clock AND me to wake him up! He could sleep all day.

Joyce

July 16th, 2009
9:55 am

My son has been a morning person ever since we brought him home 5 yrs ago. Since he was adopted overseas, I don’t know if this is purely habit or genetically hard-wired. I do know that I was able to reprogram his nap schedule after we brought him home. I also know that he will always get up early, unless he’s up really late (after 10) the night before. He used to come in to get us up at 5:30 or 6:00 any day of the week, when he was 3 or so. Now, he goes to bed 8 or 8:30 every night and usually wakes up without me by 7. Getting moving and ready to go is another story, but he’s wide awake by 7! On the weekends, he’s forbidden to come get us until 8, unless it’s a dire emergency.

My husband is a definite night-owl, and I’m more on the early side, just not as early as my son!

penguinmom

July 16th, 2009
10:41 am

My kids are all late sleepers. I’m not sure about genetics but my husband and I are both night owls so that’s what the kids have always been used to. They get up around 9:30 or 10am. They sometimes get up earlier than that but know not to disturb me before then. Go to bed around 11pm. (We homeschool so we don’t have to get up early for the bus.) When they are at their Grandparents’ house, they go to bed earlier and get up earlier. But the first night back at our house, they’re back on their old schedule again.

I have friends who say their kids won’t sleep late. I’ve always wondered if that would still be true if they lived at our house for a couple of weeks.

As far as the 9-9 phone rule, I think that’s a matter of personal preference to some extent. I personally don’t want anyone calling me before 11am. Being a night owl, most friends know they can call me anytime at night. I wouldn’t ever call anyone before 9am unless I knew they were going to be up already. I hesitate to call after 9pm unless I know they are okay with that or if I am returning a phone call that needs an answer. In general, I avoid the time problem by relying on emails for a lot of my communication.

Becky

July 16th, 2009
10:47 am

The boy wakes up about 7′ish, no matter what time he goes to bed..The girl will sleep as long as you let her. no matter what time she goes to be..The only time the girl get’s up early is when I tell her the night before that we are going someplace special and that we have to get up early..

MJG, I’m with you on the no call rule after a certain time..For us, it’s 9:30pm, no real time for the am..I will call two of my sisters after that because I know that they stay up late..I have a sister the has to get up about 3:45 am to go to work, so I never call her after 7:30pm, unless it’s a major emergency…I have a niece that lives in KY and doesn’t work (is on disabilty), she called me collect one morning about 1:30, when I told her that I was sleeping, she wanted to know why???

pd

July 16th, 2009
10:49 am

Andrea

July 16th, 2009
10:52 am

@MJG: The reasoning behind Camp Happy was because my mom wanted the grandkids to experience childhood as we (her kids) did. She thought they were “too everything” meaning too scheduled, the bookbags were too heavy, they came home too tired, and in my case (because we did not live in GA) too far. So Camp Happy is their time to basically be spoiled by their grandparents and circumvent every rule established by the parents! (LOL) It works well, and believe it or not, the adult grandchildren still go to my parents house for Camp Happy time!

I agree with Kathy about the internal clock. I haven’t used an alarm clock in years.

karia

July 16th, 2009
11:35 am

I think it’s both genetic and what you get used to. But I really believe a lot of it is hard-wired into us. We also have the benefit of being able to homeschool and it’s amazing to me how much happier and well-behaved my kids are now that they get enough sleep every night. I was always a stickler for getting them in bed no later than 8:30 when they went to school, but no matter how tired they were, they’d still lie there awake for an hour or two before being able to fall asleep. Then of course when 6:00 rolled around it was a nightmare to get them up.

Now they go to bed around 10 and I rarely hear a peep out of them. And we all sleep in until anywhere between 8 and 10 in the morning. We still have days where we have to get up early for appointments, group classes, church, etc. and they do fine. I guess it’s because on most nights they’re getting enough rest.

All that to say, the years they were in school, I wanted (and tried everything I knew!) to reprogram them into being early-birds, but it never worked. I’m a night owl married to a morning bird, and neither of us have ever succeeded at trying to change our ways, either.

DB

July 16th, 2009
11:35 am

Actually, there’s been some interesting research that there IS a genetic component to “early birds” and “night owls”. It’s such a basic difference between people, and apparently, it’s just an interesting combination of circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, REM sleep triggers, etc. You can compensate for it, but it usually takes a long, gradual time to adjust your own body’s sleep pattern to a typical worker-bee’s schedule, and even then, if you go on vacation, etc., your body tends to “revert”.

I’m a night owl. I’m usually not sleepy before 2 AM, and I’m usually not seriously functional before around 10 AM. When I was working outside the home, I’d gradually get used to going to bed between 11 and 12 and getting up between 6 and 7, but by the third day of a vacation, I’d be watching late movies or playing games at 1 am and sleeping until 9 or later. When kids were at home, I’d go to bed at 2′ish, get up at 6:15 to get the kids up and out, and then catch up on sleep when they left at 7:15. Working from home, I get a lot of work done between 10 pm and 2 pm — nice and quiet. 24 hour Krogers are a god-send, becuase I love to go grocery shopping at 11 pm — no one in the store!

My BF is an early bird, up at 5 am, and in bed by 9. We have an agreement — she doesn’t call me before 9 am, and I don’t call her after 9 pm! :-) However, my SIL is also a night-owl, and we often chat at 11 or 12 pm, because we know the other is up.

HB

July 16th, 2009
11:39 am

On phone calls — I don’t think calling outside of 9-9 is a sign the manners have fallen by the wayside. It just shows that people have different ideas of what are acceptable times to call, partly due to the move away from 9-6 work schedules. My rule for friends and family would probably be 8-10 (9am on weekends), and I have no problem ignoring the phone or telling people I’ll call them back the next day if it’s not a good time to talk. My close friends on the other coast know I’m generally up until 11ish, and I have no problem with them calling me that late. If they didn’t, we might never get in touch due to work schedules and time zones! They always ask if I have time to talk and don’t just assume I’ll stay up all night talking to them. I never call my friend who manages a theater before 11am, but I don’t hesitate to call her at 11pm because I know she’s still up and active. There just aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules on manners.

b

July 16th, 2009
12:12 pm

I think it is a learned behavior. My oldest is now in college and while she would sleep in until 9:00ish when she was still at home, now that she has early practice, classes and summer work, she is up even when she doesn’t have something going on. My youngest does like to sleep, but he is a teenager who is growing like a weed. During school it is hard to get him up at 5:45 am but he doesn’t stay up, even on weekends, past 11:00 pm and is usually up on the weekends by 7:30 am. I am a nightowl but have learned to adjust based on my work/family schedule.

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
2:45 pm

HB, good points and what is a 9-6 work schedule? I have never heard of it. Does anyone work this schedule it Atlanta, as the traffic is horrendous on I85 between 7 and 8 and not so much after 8;30. I thought more folks worked 8-5….My husband works 6-2:30 with half hour for lunch.

I do realize that nothing is the norm now but sometimes families need a little bit of their own down time and while I am happy to chat with folks ( most times) during the day, I am ready for some down time by 9:00 p.m.

Once, I sat next to a lady on the plane who worked in NYC. She told me that on the day of 9/11
more people would have been killed if the planes crashed later. As she shared,most folks work late say 9 or 10 p.m. and rarely get to work before 10 in the morning or after. I had no idea.

I am thinking that, years ago, folks went to bed earlier and got up earlier….generally. Now, we have more round the clockers. My husband worked midnights for years, when we were first married.

DB…you would not catch me out shopping that late but I do know that there are many who like it!

HB

July 16th, 2009
3:21 pm

That’s what I mean about the work schedule, MJG. Once upon a time, I think most (but not all) jobs fit into a smaller range of time each day. Main street shops closed at 6, commutes were 10 minutes or less, everyone had Sunday off, etc. With long commutes, flex schedules, and a move to a more round-the-clock, service-based economy with far more people working evenings in retail, restaurants, and entertainment, we don’t really have a “normal” work schedule shared by most people anymore. That makes it difficult to have a manners rule for what time is acceptable to call people. Of course, technology has helped there too — you can call the people whose schedules you’re familiar with and won’t disturb at bad times and then just email the rest ;).

catlady

July 16th, 2009
3:38 pm

My children–all adults–prefer to sleep late. I attribute it to not being raised by my mom. She believed that “sleeping late” was sleeping till 7 am. At 7, she would start rattling and banging pans. It was quite a trick that she could rattle them in the kitchen but it sounded like she was right outside the bedroom door (LOL) and it was a big house. Or she would “mistakenly” drop something or “clumsily” run into the door with the vaccum cleaner. Sleeping past 7 was a sign of a) very serious illness or b) the Devil taking root. As a result, I have NEVER been able to sleep past 7:30 at the latest.

Of course, it could be genetic. My exhusband slept late until he remarried a woman lazier than he!

catlady

July 16th, 2009
3:44 pm

Growing up, anyone who called after 9 pm had DARNED SURE BETTER BE CALLING TO REPORT A DEATH IN THE FAMILY!

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
4:15 pm

HAHAHA catlady….maybe we are related, except that I am allergic to cats.

Becky

July 16th, 2009
4:29 pm

cataldy and mjg, that’s what I tell my family..If you call me after 9:30, your house had better be on fire or you’re dead..Do not call me if you are in jail..I won’t come to get you..

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
6:13 pm

My husband reminded me of this:

EARLY TO BED AND EARLY TO RISE…MAKES A MAN HEALTHY, WEALTHY AND WISE….
guess that was what your mom was thinking catlady.

Really none of my business but what do children DO who are regularly up until 11:00…I am not talking about a couple of days per week in the summer. Are they playing Yahtzee, cooking meals ahead, reading a novel or doing chores?

Is there actually anything beneficial to be involved in at that hour that does not include electronics.

I needed my kids to be in bed for a bit before me so I could think.

They are now grown and usually up way past me but do not particularly want to be involved in whatever I do, unless it involves something yummy to eat.

Tiffany

July 16th, 2009
9:17 pm

My kids can always sleep much later than I can. They do stay up later in the summer. That’s part of the fun of being out of school. Their late hours will include: oldest daughter stays up reading, youngest daughter is glued to whatever is on Disney channel, ect and son is on the phone, texting, or on the computer for hours on end. My mom had those same rules about phone calls after a certain hour. She was very strict about it. Heaven help us if a friend called after 9:00 pm! We’d try hard to pick it up on the first ring…and hope mom didn’t hear it. Nobody better call during the dinner hour either. I’m not quite as strict as she was…and still is!

Tiffany

July 16th, 2009
9:30 pm

To answer the question- I don’t know if you can completely switch an early riser into a later sleeper…sometimes the older they get they generally don’t get up as early. You just have to wait it out!

Stephanie

July 16th, 2009
9:37 pm

mothergoose- I wonder the same thing about children that are up early! What are they doing if they get up at 5 or 6? Nothing is open yet! I am yet another homeschooler that has children who go to bed around 10:30 or 11 and get between 9 and 10. Basically our day is probably the same as everyone elses, just shifted a few hours back- as in we eat dinner later, do baths later and so on.

My children are very active and involved in things during the day, so we often finish up our schoolwork at night as well. By then my husband is at home and can watch my toddler while I work with my older child, or work with her on Math or Science since he enjoys those topics more than I do, while I watch the toddler.

Its unconventional but it works for us!

motherjanegoose

July 16th, 2009
9:50 pm

Children who get up at 5 or 6 are getting ready to catch the bus to get to school ( at least mine do and did). Perhaps others can help out with this but I know of no teenagers who get up at 5 or 6 to watch movies or play on the computer…. or just read a book ( unless they did not finish it up the night before and are having a test)….do they exist?

In Gwinnett County GA ( where I live and I believe Theresa does too) there are not many kids who get up at 5 or 6 to work out in the yard, walk the dog, tend a garden or even exercise. I do see some high schoolers who are running track around 7;00 a.m. and I admire them and know their self discipline will come in handy some day.

I know of plenty of teenagers ( mine included) that would stay up all night watching TV, reading or playing on the computer, if I let them.

To say nothing is open, is not exactly true: Waffle House, some Walgreens and Wal Mart are….LOL.

Tiffany, we had a party line and if you were on the phone late, your parents WOULD find out…haha!

nurse&mother

July 17th, 2009
12:41 am

DB- you sound just like me (as far as sleep habits go).

MJG- I try to not call someone after 9pm. I don’t want folks calling me before 9:00 or 9:30am. I have called a few folks around 9:15pm before but it is not often. I stay up so late, I really can’t fathom being in the bed at 9pm. lol

My children seem to be night owls too. This could be just a learned behavior from their mother. Interesting thing is that they don’t usually sleep much past 8am. My husband doesn’t seem to require as much sleep as I do.

DB

July 17th, 2009
7:55 am

“Early to bed, early to rise” was coined during a time when the country was heavily agrarian, and it was necessary to take advantage of every drop of daylight in order to get all your farm chores done. I do not see how getting up at 5 AM in this day and age makes someone morally superior, since they are snoozing when I am getting my most productive work done at midnight!

Becky

July 17th, 2009
8:17 am

I can’t get on the new topic, is anyone else having trouble?

motherjanegoose

July 17th, 2009
8:26 am

DB…I agree with you on “early to bed” and was merely mentioning it as a reason for catlady’s mother @ 3:38 banging around…she probably grew up in that time frame.

Could the same be said about ” the early bird gets ( or is it catches) the worm” ?

I am wondering if I am the only parent whose children are not up at 5:00 just for fun but would stay up until midnight for the same…re: my dialogue with Stephanie.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 17th, 2009
8:59 am

Hey Becky — it did have funky type in it — I fixed it — see if it will work for you now — theresa

DB

July 17th, 2009
9:32 am

MJG: My kids might STAY UP until 5 AM to do something fun, but once they are asleep, getting up at 5 AM is pretty much corporal punishment, as far as they are concerned! On vacations, we’ve finally come to an agreement with my early-riser husband — do NOT wake us up before 8 AM, or you will have a car-load of VERY CRABBY people. He’s one of these people that, while on vacation, wants to be up at 6:30 am so as not to miss a single thing, so he’s learned to go out, get in his run or swim, grab a coffee, read the paper, etc. until 8′ish. For the rest of us, getting up at 6:30 on vacation is miserable.

And yes, early birds can have all those icky worms they want, as far as I’m concerned! Sometimes I think I’d do very well as a night-shift worker or as someone who monitors stock and currency markets in Asia! There was the Southampton study (1973) that studied sleep patterns and followed up with income studies 20 years later — turns out the people who were night owls were statistically wealthier than their early-bird friends — aha! Vindicated! (You can find a stat for ANYTHING!)

motherjanegoose

July 17th, 2009
10:01 am

DB…too funny! My confusion was about Stephanie saying that she is wondering about kids who get up at 5 or 6 …hello? I do not know these children…who are they? Where do they live?

My perfect world would include getting in bed at 10:00, reading until 11:00, sleep all night and then getting up at 7:30….meandering around until 8:00 and leave for work at 9:00. I rarely get to live in that world as I wake up all night long and then things start moving here around 4:00 a.m. I have tasted a bit of it these past weeks but have to go back to work soon….UGH!

We need to get together….for lunch? LOL

DB

July 17th, 2009
12:26 pm

Definitely not for breakfast . . .!

Stephanie

July 17th, 2009
2:22 pm

mothergoose- I have two neighbors with daughters the same age as mine (6), both of whom are up by 6 every morning no matter how late they stay up. It drives their parents insane! One is a homeschool Mom as well, and she does the reverse of what I do. She does all her school in the mornings then is ready to meet us at an activity or attraction by 10:30. We both love having days free to go places while it is not crowed, so we both do school in the ‘off’ hours- morning in her case, evening in mine!

The second Mom works and trys to make her daughter amuse herself until the parents are ready to get up, but with little success. She just puts up with it and prays it will get better the older her daughter gets! I know other parents who say their kids watch TV until the parents get up.

So there are children out there getting up! I function much better in the evening , so I am glad that mine are late sleepers like myself. It also makes it nice on the weekends when we want to go out for a late dinner or stay at someones house late- I know that the kids are OK because they are used to it, and will sleep in the next morning. Both my neighbors usually end up having to leave shortly after dinner.

Agai, I think this is one of those, whatever works for your family type issues!

motherjanegoose

July 17th, 2009
9:33 pm

WOW…I learned something new here. My husband and I go CRAZY when are going out for a quiet dinner and lo and behold, there are children running everywhere in the restaurants at 9:00 p.m.
I have always wondered WHO would take their kids out this late for dinner and never thought about homeschooling parents.

As you may expect, I am not in favor of small children being up late ( on a regular basis) but I am not in favor of homeschooling either and I have expressed this before. Just my opinion and no it will not change, to each his own….

nb

June 3rd, 2010
4:39 am

The BabyZoo Sleeptrainer is a wonderful product for early rising toddlers, who cannot read time yet. It features a cute little monkey who opens and closes its eyes. You can tell your child, that as long as the monkey is sleeping, he/she should stay in bed as well.
http://www.mybabyzoo.com