Sleep, Success, and Seminary

Sleep: it’s more important than you think, especially for teenagers. Here’s from George Will’s latest column, “How to ruin a child“:

Only 5 percent of high school seniors get eight hours of sleep a night. Children get an hour less than they did 30 years ago, which subtracts IQ points and adds body weight.

Does getting less sleep really make kids dumber? Sort of. Will cites

research on grade schoolers showing that “the performance gap caused by an hour’s difference in sleep was bigger than the gap between a normal fourth-grader and a normal sixth-grader.” In high school, there is a steep decline in sleep hours, and a striking correlation of sleep and grades.

So why don’t we just push school start times back an hour and let our kids get the extra sleep they need? And is this really such a problem?

The school day starts too early because that is convenient for parents and teachers. Awakened at dawn, teenage brains are still releasing melatonin, which makes them sleepy. This is one reason young adults are responsible for half of the 100,000 annual “fall asleep” automobile crashes. When Edina, Minn., changed its high school start from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., math/verbal SAT scores rose substantially.
Furthermore, sleep loss increases the hormone that stimulates hunger and decreases the one that suppresses appetite. Hence the correlation between less sleep and more obesity.

If this is a problem for the average American teenager, it is compounded for the average Mormon teenager who is attending early-morning seminary. Over the last thirty years, as high school start times have been pushed back from 8:00 or 8:30 to 7:30 or even earlier, the start times for early-morning seminary have moved in lock step from around 7:00 a.m. to as early as 6:00 a.m. This means Mormon students are getting up as early as 5:00 a.m. If the logic of Will’s article holds, these Mormon teens are paying a steep price.

Does anyone care? Does the Church Education System care? Parents certainly care, but are often unaware of the demonstrated link between adequate sleep for teenagers and their health and academic success. I think if parents were more aware, they’d care a lot more.

I’m not advocating the abolition of early-morning seminary; the program does a lot for LDS teens who participate. But there are costs as well as benefits, and I rarely (never?) see any indication that those who run the program are aware of the costs, which fall on the kids, parents, and teachers who participate in early-morning seminary, not the 9-to-5 CES bureaucrats who run the system. If we were more aware of these costs, perhaps some adjustments would be made in the program to minimize these negative effects while retaining the overall benefits that early-morning seminary offers LDS teenagers.

86 comments for “Sleep, Success, and Seminary

  1. March 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I wholeheartedly disagree with the research and Mr. Will’s article, based on nothing more than my own life experience.

    I was actively involved in many extra-curriculars in high school, delivered newspapers in the morning, electively took an extra period that started at 7:30 am (or thereabouts), and attended early morning seminary. The result? I typically went to bed between 11 pm and midnight and woke up around 3:30-4:30 am. This schedule even happened on the weekends and even over the summer (sleep schedule became pretty solidly set). So for many years, I slept between 3 and 5 hours every night.

    I graduated in the top 10% of my class, attended a major 4-year university and graduated with an above-average GPA, and now own a small business while also working as a professional educator.

    Many of my LDS friends, who also did the same things I did in high school, have similar success stories.

    Heck, even my non-LDS friends still had similar schedules. After school activities, late-night rehearsals, at school by 7 am, repeat. These folks went on to top-level schools and have amazing careers. I just don’t see the “steep price” being paid in lower IQs and higher obesity. At least not in my extremely limited sample set.

  2. adam e.
    March 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Alex, it sounded like you were serious, but you really can’t refute research based on an anecdote.

    Having said that, I would like to see a study applied to LDS youth in particular, since a higher percentage of those who attend early-morning seminary regularly may have characteristics (i.e. self-motivation, support at home, etc.) that help them excel in school, and those characteristics may outweigh the sleep deprivation.

  3. March 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    adam e. – Sure you can! :P

    In reality, I question research all the time, because I have seen how it is gathered, and I have seen very well-qualified people completely misinterpret the data. I don’t deny that some teens are adversely affected by getting less sleep than others, but I know far too many who get less sleep because they are self-motivated to do more. And until the research disaggregates the group, I am going to question the validity.

  4. jks
    March 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I am seriously concerned about this issue. 2 more years until early morning seminary starts for my children and then my kids will be in it for 14 years straight. Of course they are going but for 14 years I am going to be stressed that it is contributing to their teenage emotional problems, weight problems, etc.
    I do not know what the answer is.

  5. Lulubelle
    March 4, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I agree with the research. I, too, went to early morning seminary, graduated in the top 3% of my class, went to university and graduated, and earn a fat salary. Still, sleep deprivation was severe. I was cranky and consistently fell asleep in class nearly every day. Here’s a story: A kid in my stake was on his way to early morning seminary, fell asleep at the wheel, and nearly killed himself in a car accident. My kids won’t be forced (or even encouraged) to go to seminary. Totally their choice. But if the start time is too early and they have too many things going on and I think it becomes a safety issue, I’ll step in and not allow them to go. Lots of very good and religious kids don’t require some 10+ hours of religious schooling PER WEEK (unless they’re preparing to become a priest).

  6. Jos. Jr.
    March 4, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve since resigned from the lds church but when I was active early morning seminary was something that I definetly was not going to push on my children. Getting up at that ungodly hour to basically receive a rehash of what they were supposed to be learning in church anyhow struck me as just plain assinine.

  7. March 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Alex, you sure you weren’t just a genetic lottery winner in regards to sleep? I think you are very much out of the ordinary to be able to do that. To assume that because you could others could is misleading at best.

    Dave, I tend to agree. Especially for people who have travel significant distance to seminary. This isn’t an issue where release time seminary is available. But early morning seminary is a mistake, I think. Were it not for the early morning I think it would be valuable. With the early morning nature I question how much retention is actually going on as well. (I honestly couldn’t remember what was said in seminary minutes after leaving because I was so tired)

  8. ESO
    March 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I suspect that once (home study) Seminary is available on-line, we will not be able to prevent much of the early morning students from jumping ship to use that. Personally, I think study with a class is more valuable than home-study, so I don’t relish that move, but think it pretty inevitable.

    I know of many units that have a fairly flexible model wherein they meet at least once a week in the evening (before mutual), and some that moved the class entirely to an after school Seminary program. It sure doesn’t work everywhere or for everyone, but for some, it does.

  9. Steve Densley, Jr.
    March 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    The scriptures teach us to “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:124.) Teens who need to get up earlier would be well advised to go to bed earlier. My smaller childern are in bed by 8pm or 8:30 and my teens are usually in bed before 9pm on weeknights, so I’m confident that such a schedule is not impossible.

  10. Lulubelle
    March 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Well, Steve, that depends on extra curricular activities and amount of homework. And if a teen is working a job…

  11. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    The premise from which all your quoted theories flows is:

    “Only 5 percent of high school seniors get eight hours of sleep a night. Children get an hour less than they did 30 years ago, which subtracts IQ points and adds body weight.”

    Based on this, you come to a conclusion that early morning seminary is bad, because it decreases the number of hours of sleep students may get. It seems you are ignoring 50% of the problem: what time they retire.

    When I was a teenager, I was always tired. I had a doctor who told me that one of the worst inventions ever made was the electric light bulb. When I asked him why, he said it was because it’s hard to fall asleep with the light (or TV, videogame, cellphone, etc.) on.

    Maybe we should follow Steve’s (#9) example and assure they are getting adequate sleep, instead of demanding that things start later. Otherwise, we will soon run out of daylight, and either demand for more light bulbs, or more DST. Either way, we will always be chasing dreams.

  12. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    (Your comment: But there are costs as well as benefits, and I rarely (never?) see any indication that those who run the program are aware of the costs, which fall on the kids, parents, and teachers who participate in early-morning seminary, not the 9-to-5 CES bureaucrats who run the system.)

    Furthermore, I find it interesting that, instead of taking a critical look at the premises, you immediately critique CES, and just about every other organization charged with educating our youth, alleging that as though those who run such programs only care about the costs to them, and not the children.

    Mrs. Rev. Lovejoy: “Oh, won’t someone please think of the children!?!?!?!?”

  13. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    should read: “…alleging that…” and not “…alleging that as though…”
    Forgive my repetitive redundant language.

  14. jks
    March 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Teens are biologically different than adults. They have different sleep patterns. Sending them to bed early does not fix the problem.

  15. March 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t have a lot of love for the approach CES takes to “volunteer-based” early morning seminary. The program appears to me to have the effect of jading almost anyone called to teach in it. I burned out after five months of teaching. Another friend after three. Aside from the calling of Bishop, I can’t think of anything more lonely and difficult, especially if the group dynamic in the class is bad. And I know people who think early morning seminary teachers have it more difficult than any Bishop.

    It’s possible that CES, geared as it is around the released-time program, considers the volunteer-based early-morning program a “best-effort” kind of thing. As a participant I was regularly complimented for the “sacrifices” required to participate, both years ago as a student and recently as a teacher.

    The program is full of those kinds of platitudes, but very light on the actual training required to manage a classroom full of unruly 11th graders, who know that they can pass if they just show up for 10 minutes out of the hour and socialize over the teacher’s attempts to even get started.

    Involve the parents? Well: “To be honest, Brother Perkins, we’re just glad our kid shows up at all. No, we won’t ever be attending with them. What are you kidding, we’re still asleep when they leave!”

    Frankly, now that my oldest is in that program, our family schedules have school start times that range from 6:20 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Morning scriptures and prayers are gone. The afternoon schedules span all the way from 2:20 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and by then the various church activities go all afternoon into the evening, with support meetings on other days consuming the remaining time.

    I’m left wondering whether I should just enroll my kids in the home-study and teach them all myself, instead of losing the opportunity, the way we have, to pray together as a family more than three times a week.

  16. Dan
    March 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I usually take with a massive grain of salt whatever George Will says, but in this case, he is right about the need for good sleep. That all said, in relation to early morning seminary, as there has never been any problem that I’ve heard of related to having seminary early in the morning, it seems that having it early in the morning does not have a negative effect upon a person.

  17. kew
    March 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Out high school gym collapsed a couple weeks ago, rendering the HS campus unusable. The HS is holding classes at the middle school for the remainder of the year, but 2pm-7pm. That means early morning seminary now starts a little after 12 noon. It will be interesting see what happens with the new schedule.

  18. March 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Dan, on what basis are you saying that? The conclusion of scientists is that we should let young people sleep in more. While it’s possible they might be wrong, I’ve not seen anyone really providing arguments for it beyond they didn’t see negative effects in themselves or others. But what were they comparing it with?

  19. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    @jks: No, sending them to sleep early does not NECESSARILY fix the problem. Per your article, which I haven’t had too much time to vet, and which is hardly conclusive:

    Q: How about the impact on schoolwork?
    A: According to one study out of Brown University, high school students who got Cs, Ds, and Fs REPORTED GOING TO BED 40 MINUTES LATER than their peers who got As and Bs.


    The following is his adivice on how parents can help teens get enough rest – by developing good sleep habits.
    Dim the lights at night
    Get lots of light in the morning
    Sleep in a cool environment
    Turn off the music, Internet, and television 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed
    Get plenty of physical activity during the day.

    Look, I used this sort of argument, even appealing to similar studies, all the time on my parents when I was a teenager trying to stay up late or sleep in later. While there are differences, they are not so exaggerated. I still have trouble falling asleep before 12:00pm and waking by 8:00am.

  20. Clark
    March 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I fully agree that going to be too late is part of the problem. But let’s be clear. It’s not the only problem and the linked to article is hardly the only scientific study on this sort of thing.

  21. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    @Clark: Scientists are not necessarily saying that we should let teenagers sleep in, just that they need better sleep. Certainly, going to be at 8:00pm and waking by 3:00am is not the most healthy thing for an adult, let alone a child. However, many cultures “follow the sun”–going to bed when it goes down and waking when it comes up. Yet ours seems to have more problems with juveniles…
    And, you’re right, there are other articles. Peruse, and you will see many extolling the virtues of those theories cited by George Will, and many others still looking at the other side of the problem. This blog post only focuses on 50%, and not the raging late-night problem we seem to have here.

  22. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    @jks: BTW, the data did said that high school students who got Cs, Ds, and Fs REPORTED GOING TO BED 40 MINUTES LATER AND GETTING 25 MINUTES LESS SLEEP than their peers who got As and Bs. That means that these lower-performing students were sleeping in 15 minutes longer than their A-B peers. Just something to sleep on…

  23. March 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Right. But part of better sleep is tied to melatonin levels and the like and regulated by light. So I think we’re saying the same thing. The problem is that I spent most of my seminary coming home when it was still dark out from seminary.

    Further let’s be honest. It’s not just an hour for seminary for most people. There’s travel time unless you are fortunate to have seminary beside your high school. So you end up with two hours a day killed, which is quite costly.

  24. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    How is it quite costly? All these studies state that no conclusions can be drawn about long-term effects of sleep deprivation. Moreover, these same studies stress “regular sleep patterns” and not “early bed-times” nor “getting up later” as the most important factor affecting sleep/mood/grades and the like.

    As I said before, if you want to be involved in these things, when should they be done? Only during the light hours? And then what? No play? Or do we shift our arbitrary clock to match what we want our day to look like, only to find ourselves wanting more time, or later start times?

    I think seminary is a good thing; there are many anecdotes from members and non-members, and even organizations (e.g., Pixar) who agree. I also believe that the early morning is the best time for it. When else would the author want it? If it were Tuesday nights, he would complain that it was at night and took away from the family; parents do that already when it comes to YM/YW activities.

    Griping over early mornings, without considering the late nights, as this author does, borders on ridiculousness.

  25. DS
    March 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Over a decade later and I’m still bitter about early morning seminary.

    Between a job, sports, scouting, church and maintaining a high GPA, seminary was just too much to ask of a sleep-deprived teenager. I’ve worked at a major law firm for a few years now and despite repeated hundred-hour weeks I’ve never been as tired at my current job as I was as a Junior or Senior in High School. One area that needs a serious re-think by CES.

  26. March 4, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    In NJ, thanks for your comments, but you seem to be missing the point. I’m not griping about early mornings. First, I’m pointing out that there are generally accepted findings on sleep, reflected in Will’s article but also bymany others: (1) that inadequate sleep has negative health and performance effects; and (2) that teens generally do not prsently get enough sleep and the problem is getting worse. Second, there is a Mormon angle: (1) Mormon teens in early-morning seminary are likely to get even less sleep than the average teen; and (2) no one associated with CES seems aware of this problem or is discussing it publicly. At least I have never heard or read such a discussion from official channels.

    So what point is it that you disagree with: Are you rejecting the contention that inadequate sleep presents a performance or health problem? Are you simply rejecting the point that teens get indadequate sleep? Do you think the studies regarding sleep levels simply don’t apply to LDS teens? Or perhaps your point is that if everyone would just go to bed at eight o’clock there wouldn’t be any sleep problem, so we are therefore justified in ignoring it?

  27. Dan
    March 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm



    I don’t need scientific proof, for example, to know that drinking alcohol can be generally bad for you (I leave open the evidence that alcoholic drinks like wine do have properties which are beneficial for the human body). There is enough anecdotal evidence of its negative consequences. Or heck, even something milder like caffeine. If you get a decent amount of sleep, waking up early doesn’t have negative consequences to your body.

  28. Lulubelle
    March 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    DS: Totally agree with you. It’s been 20 years from me and I still think seminary was a ridiculous waste of time and completely unnecessary. Seriously– do teens REALLY need 10+ hours/week of formal religious instruction? In high school, I did ski team, track, year book, media lab, journalism, honors classes, and worked 20 hours per week. Seriously, who does that? Seminary + 3 hours church on Sundays + weekly YM/YW + additional meetings. The amount of “tasks” we assign ourselves in the church is mind boggling. I find most active members I know feverishly working on “checking off the boxes” that are required of them rather than truly find joy and peace inside the church. It’s taken me decades to make peace with the demands of the church. For years I felt nothing but guilt and inadequacy and it pretty much started with the insane time demands in seminary.

  29. namekemono
    March 4, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    well, here in Japan, my child`s high school teachers regularly tell them that no one needs more than 6 hours sleep a night – especially teenagers!

  30. March 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Here’s a fun study from BYU on religiosity and GPA:

    ie- I think we’re ok.

  31. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    @Dave: Talk about missing the point.

    There is no doubt many teens get inadequate sleep, and that it has a deleterious effect on their lives. However, the problem isn’t as simple as you or George Will appear to think it is. I think my previous posts speak directly to that point. In fact, if you read your article, you have completely ignored how our culture is going to bed increasingly later. How can you criticize CES when you yourself are only looking at half of the problem?

    Certainly a student who has an earlier start time is more likely to sleep less. However, merely because CES doesn’t publicly discuss the problem doesn’t mean it is not a major concern. I believe it is–just look at how CES has approached the problem in Utah. Early morning seminary is no longer offered for even those who want it. Yet, you immediately indict it for such ‘blatant and obvious failures’ (cue Mrs. Rev. Lovejoy).

    I never advocated bed by 8:00pm. In fact, my children, who are younger than 5, go to bed at 8, and we have discussed a later bedtime based on family convenience. I do, however, point out that the ONLY variable that these studies can agree on is a regular sleep pattern–not going to bed early, nor getting up later, but a regular sleep pattern. That is the healthiest answer. In fact, as I stated above, the linked article to which jks refers states that students who slept 40 minutes longer than their counterparts, though they got up 15 minutes earlier, performed better. Interestingly, they got up earlier. Yet, this is a CORRELATION. While there was a significant difference between the groups, did they perform better because they slept better? Or is this a sign of overall maturity, which includes academic and personal discipline?

    I feel sorry for children who, either through their own choices or those of their parents, are overburdened like Lulubelle, or who are bitter about church like DS seems to be. Another confound you seem to have ignored is this increase in extra-curricular activity overload.

    As far as I can tell, the Church doesn’t view seminary as merely an activity for youth to get together in a spiritual environment (which is what YM/YW activities are in many ways), but as a way to learn about the church, much like Sunday School, though obviously in more detail. It is religious education–I will encourage my children to attend because it is beneficial in that way. However, how they choose to experience it is up to them, much like it was for Lulubelle and DS. Accepting that seminary is beneficial, what do you propose, Dave? After jumping to quick criticism, do you have something to offer?

    I find my previous posts, and this one too, to be directly on topic–both with the original blog post and subsequent commentators. Missed the point?

  32. John Mansfield
    March 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    NBC fired Conan O’Brian and put Jay Leno back on the Tonight Show, so maybe that will help a little with teenagers getting enough sleep.

  33. ceejay
    March 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Could you compare the argument that “tithing teaches a person to manage your money better” with “early-morning seminary teaches a person to manage their sleep-schedule better”? (Or maybe more generally “early-morning seminary teaches a person to manage their time better.”)

  34. Fairchild
    March 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I woke up at 4:45 a.m. in order to curl my straight hair in the 80’s for seminary. I survived by taking a nap every day after school. Then, I could stay up late doing all my AP homework. This was my cycle for 4 years. Having my earliest class at BYU start at 8 a.m. felt like a dream!

  35. March 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Thank you, in NJ, for agreeing that “teens get inadequate sleep, and that it has a deleterious effect on their lives.” So — obviously — my post is not missing the point. Whether CES is aware of this point or not, it is a concern for LDS teens. I don’t think your speculation based on what happens in Utah speaks to that point (the awareness of CES). Utah is not really where early-morning seminary happens.

    What would I do? First I’d make LDS Statistical Services (or whatever the name is) do a large survey to determine whether there is a problem or not, and to document it. I’d suggest making an online seminary program available to students, probably requiring the approval of the bishop (to avoid abuses). BYU is pushing distance learning — why can’t CES? Someone remind them this is the 21st century. I’d maybe cut early-morning back to two or three days per week — I think five days a week is overkill.

    It seems like the program needs to diversify and accommodate itself to the needs of its diverse students, rather than making the students conform to the program (and losing any student that cannot conform, whether there are legitimate reasons or not). The Church is in the business of saving souls, not exalting programs, and the approach of CES ought to reflect this fact.

  36. WJ
    March 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    What I wonder is how much are we overreacting to the conclusions drawn by this study, if at all? For those of you who have never recovered from the trauma of early morning seminary, how would you have used those forfeited extra IQ points to better your current situation, or is additional religious instruction worth sacrificing a few IQ points?

  37. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I have no problem with your suggestions, Dave. That is a lot more reasonable than “I won’t encourage my children to go to seminary” or “what is the point since we have YM/YW and Sunday School”. I still stand by my points that we have not found any cause, only correlation, and that we are still not adequately considering evening and late-night lifestyle in the equation. These are big points that needed to be made.

    BTW, my “missing the point comment” was with respect to your comment that I was missing the point on your blog post. So what does that make us? Absolutely nothing! (Lord Dark Helmet)

  38. In NJ
    March 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    One more thing, though. Early morning seminary did happen in Utah, to quite a large degree. It wasn’t the compulsory hour, though it was elective. One can reasonably assume that those who elected to take it early morning were more motivated and disciplined. CES (obviously) does not offer such an elective anymore. It cited the availability of released-time options and the need for sleep as reasons for the change. I know–I was there.

  39. Sonny
    March 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for this post Dave. I don’t have time right now to read all the comments, but I just want to say that early morning seminary has been devastating to my teenage daughter battling depression. We decided that the extra sleep at this time is more important to her well-being, so she is not attending right now. The seminary teacher has been very supportive and understanding.

  40. jimbob
    March 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    “I, too, went to early morning seminary, graduated in the top 3% of my class, went to university and graduated, and earn a fat salary.”

    Are you saying that they pay you in burgers and pizza?

  41. March 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Dan: If you get a decent amount of sleep, waking up early doesn’t have negative consequences to your body.

    The scientific evidence is that for teenagers this simply isn’t the case. Now NJ’s point that the bigger issue is just not getting enough sleep period. And to that I agree. Want to help your teenager? Make sure they go to bed early.

    However Seminary doesn’t exactly help there either. When I did early morning seminary it started at around 6:30. I had to drive 25 miles in rush hour traffic to get there. That means I was waking up quite early. To get at least 8 hours sleep I would have had to go to be at 10:00 or earlier. I got home from school around 5:00. I’ll leave it as an exercise to figure out what is wrong with the picture if you have other extra-curricular activities.

  42. March 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    WJ, I don’t know that I’d call it trauma. I think, however, that the quality of religious instruction at 6:30 in the morning is simply poor. I learned a lot more from weekly seminary than I did early morning seminary.

    Given the low quality of the education to begin with I think a cost/benefit analysis would suggest that even a slight negative effect on education isn’t worth it.

    Please note, I’m not criticizing seminary. Just the particular form of early morning seminary found in some places – especially when there is large travel time.

  43. March 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Just to add, I’m not speaking to the George Will essay. (I find George Will gets science quite wrong quite regularly) I’m too lazy to do a few article search but here’s something from a quick search of New Scientist.

    In December 2004, Till Roenneberg at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, suggested that, in addition, our degree of morningness or eveningness changes with age. Roenneberg’s idea was based on his studies of the sleep habits of more than 25,000 people aged between 8 and 90. This revealed that, though young children tend to be larks, from the age of about 14 they typically begin going to sleep (and waking) later and later (Current Biology, vol 14, p R1038). He also found that around the age of 20, the trend reverses and people start sleeping at steadily earlier times. Women reach this turning point at an age of 19.5 years on average, while for men it comes at 20.9 years. “Most young children are morning-type people – they wake early and are at their most alert in the morning,” he says. “Around the onset of puberty, there is an alteration in the body’s clock so that teenagers are shifted forwards, becoming evening-type people.” They perform better later in the day, in the afternoon or evening, and find it hard to sleep before 11 pm, midnight or even 1 am.

    So while I 100% agree that the major factor is the amount of sleep the issue of when one naturally sleeps is significant as well.

  44. jks
    March 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    My daughter has the same bed time (9:30 pm) and school start time as last year, but puberty has kicked in with a vengeance. She is constantly trying to find ways to fall asleep and often tells me how late she was up, unable to fall asleep. Last year she was always up and around before family scripture time, often practicing the piano once she was ready for school (fairly late school start time). Now I wake her for scripture time at 7:50 am and she seems zonked out.
    It is all part of puberty I guess. Next year her middle school starts far earlier and she will take the bus. She says she will need to get up at 6:30. I believe the high school seminary starts at 6:30 so that means she’ll have to get up at 5:30.
    I think having seminary 4 days a week at 9:00 pm would be preferable. I don’t have high schoolers yet though so I don’t know. I know that we have two early morning seminaries for two different high schools at two chapels that are minutes from my house. Why can’t one of them do an evening seminary I wonder?

  45. Raymond Takashi Swenson
    March 4, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    My kids attended Seminary in northern California with their contemporaries from another ward, and then the students split off to attend at least six different high schools, where there were only one or two LDS kids in each one. They needed the mutual support they got to live as Mormons in a very non-Mormon environment. I know that I suffered sleep deprivation (I was later diagnosed with sleep apnea), but I don’t recall any serious symptoms among my kids or their friends who carpooled with us to or from Seminary. They were just as ornery during the summer months as they were during the school year.

  46. DS
    March 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    @ In NJ. Feel like I need to clear this up, even though it’s not what I said: I’m not bitter about church. I’m about as active a member as you’ll find. I was only bitter about the very real sleep deprivation that occurred due to early morning seminary (on top of an already very busy schedule).

    Put it this way: given the marginal benefit of trying to learn for a few minutes when you can hardly stay awake, is it worth getting up before 6 and taking about 2 hours out of your day (after commuting) 5 days a week? Just didn’t seem worth it to me then; doesn’t now.

    And let’s be clear about this, unless something has changed in the interim, this is a program run by CES. It’s not an official church calling to be a seminary teacher nor is it required to be a student for any worthiness interview. It’s just educational; but the early hours seem to limit its effectiveness.

  47. DS
    March 4, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    One more thing — unless you’ve actually experienced early morning seminary as a teen, I don’t think you can comment on how difficult it is based on having to get up early at other times in your life. I regularly pull all-nighters now and my body seems to handle it fine (I’m in my early 30s), but during my teen years I needed sleep because I was growing like a weed. Whole different ballgame.

  48. DavidH
    March 4, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I favor eliminating early morning seminary and replacing it with home study.

  49. March 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    It has recently been changed from a CES run program in the stakes, to a stake run program supported by CES.

    When I was called in to be offered a teacher position, it was to a Stake Presidency member. A high counselor set me apart; a high counselor released me at the burnout point. The High Council made the rules for the classes, which because of CES attendance and grading policies, the older students felt largely free to ignore.

    There was and still is a common impression among those students that the seminary is nothing more than Sunday School on the weekday mornings, except for those few who want to go to a Church college. Then they believe that marginal attendance and coursework will give them an edge at admissions time.

    I’ve already told my daughter that if the schedule for Seminary interferes with her studies, she still has to study the Seminary workbook but that she’s free to tell me that she wants to do home-study. And why not? So many parents around me pull their kids from Seminary so that they can make the inane two-a-days and other early morning practices that our over-hyped sports coaches make them do.

  50. March 4, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Sorry about the delayed response, but my wife reminded me that I needed to actually do some work today…

    Anyway, I believe I pointed out that it was not just me, but my entire group of friends who thrived on the sleep-deprivation schedule. I am not saying it is for everyone. In fact, I don’t really advocate it. I was merely pointing out that there are a lot more factors that need to be examined before making sweeping statements like “in high school, there is a steep decline in sleep hours, and a striking correlation of sleep and grades” and “the correlation between less sleep and more obesity”.

    I guess my biggest problem is the research sees a correlation and insists on causation without, apparently, examining any other factors.

  51. Naismith
    March 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    There is early and there is early. A bunch of parents, not just LDS, lobbied our school board to change the high school start time from 7:30 to 8:30, and it has made life much saner. So there is hope. Of course our LDS kids still do early morning seminary, but it isn’t as early as before:)

    I was invited to address the school board, and the research is there. (I’m a researcher at an academic health science center.) What is particularly impressive is that studies have been done in Japan and Israel as well as US and UK. So it is not a cultural thing, but clearly biological.

  52. March 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I pulled my son out of early morning seminary because it was affecting his grades. Early morning where we live means seminary at 5:30 am.

    My daughter managed to attend on her own (there was no way I was getting up that early to drive her, I tried and was a complete physical and emotional wreck after two weeks), but she is one of those unfathomable creatures, a morning person.

  53. Nate S.
    March 4, 2010 at 9:10 pm


    I think late night seminary is a great idea an I’ve been trying to sell the idea to my ward. Start it at 8:30 pm and all the kids can stick around after mutual saving at least one drive per week for everybody. And, like you suggested, if you do it for 1 hour 4 days a week you get Friday night off. Sure, some will miss because of sports, etc. but you still get that early morning with the swimmers. Let’s start the movement to late night seminary!

  54. Matt A.
    March 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Speaking from my own experience, the earlier I get up, the more tired I feel. Going to bed earlier does not change this. Never has. 6 hours is an immutable minimum amount of sleep to avoid severe nausea and headaches. Always has been. Sorry Alex. :)

    I did both release time and early morning seminary, depending on my school schedule, and I can honestly say that I really don’t remember much of the early morning semesters – too tired to remember much of anything.

    I don’t believe that every person’s sleep habits are identical, any more than our digestive habits are, or whatever other biological habits one might care to mention are.

    Applying a general rule of early to bed, early to rise without exception is insulting to those of us who don’t have that early rising gene (or whatever it might be). I say insulting because the next words said to me have usually been along the lines of, “If you weren’t so lazy …”

    Forgive me if I sound a bit strident, but growing up I was almost always criticized for how I slept, often harshly and with religious condemnation attached.

    There is a cost to early morning seminary, and the reality is, it is too high for many people as it is currently practised.

  55. Jim Donaldson
    March 4, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I am currently in my third year as a ‘volunteer’ early morning seminary teacher and have two adult children who graduated from early morning seminary.

    I can verify the pain. My older daughter, who did very well in school and regularly played sports and a musical instrument, was always stressed. Her parents thought it was worth the trouble and accordingly made attendance at mutual and all other activities, except Sunday meetings, genuinely optional. But still, sometimes I could hear her crying in the shower at 5:45 am. She was exhausted. She is pleased to have graduated from seminary, though there is a modicum of bitterness there, like she survived a particularly arduous, but not altogether necessary, hazing ritual. So I can see it from the kids’ perspective.

    If I had the power, I’d gladly move high school start times from 7:30 am to 9:00 am because I believe the research. It has been around for a decade, hasn’t it? Then I’d move early morning seminary to a relatively cushy 8:00 am, but then, of course, the football coaches would burn my house down. Everyone knows that is where the real power lies. That is why it hasn’t happened so far, when the clear benefit is so obvious.

    My current students (5 kids, 4 grades, 3 high schools) are very good sports and I appreciate their kindnesses to me. I do believe we all get unexpected and unrelated blessings for having made the effort. And it is a very valuable bonding experience for them, as shared pain always is. There is good that comes from their bonding together—it is a glimmer of the unity of Zion, even though they have almost nothing in common with each other other than the church. If someone comes in, puts his or her head on the table and goes to sleep, we let them. We all have those days.

    I don’t believe the tortures of seminary are the causes of the ginormous attrition problem of those 14+. I believe that the world gobbles them up and that daily early morning seminary makes it a bit more difficult for the world to gobble. That’s why I haven’t crashed and totally burnt out myself.

  56. Stephanie
    March 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Very interesting OP. Where I live, high school starts at 9 a.m. However, seminary starts at 5:30 a.m. because sports and band are in the morning before school, so seminary has to start early enough so that those kids can make it to their activities. The rest of the kids go to seminary and then go home and take a nap and get ready. I can’t imagine it is really that good to interrupt sleep like that. However, I am not sure what a good solution would be.

    Our elementary schools start at 7:30. They stagger start times to use less buses in the system. I think that another reason they start the elementary kids earlier is to accommodate the schedules of working parents. High school kids can be alone in the mornings.

    When I was in high school, our seminary started at 6:15 and school at 7:30. I had cheerleading practice right after school and then either work, a game to cheer, or mutual every night. I would start homework for a full load of AP and honors classes at around 9 p.m. and easily go until 1 or 2. I missed a lot of seminary. And school. I only passed seminary because my teachers were generous on the make-up work. And school for the same reason. It was a brutal schedule. I wouldn’t change anything for myself if I could do it again because it’s how I got a full-ride into college (which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise), but I certainly don’t want my kids to have it quite that hard. I stopped growing in 8th grade. I seriously think it was due to lack of sleep.

  57. LT
    March 4, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I was always sick in high school – I never knew why, I just figured I had a weaker immune system than everyone else. I had seminary at 7 over twenty minutes away, and had enough school work, sports and extracurricular activities so that I rarely got to bed before 11:30. When I went to college I was suddenly getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and I’ve rarely been sick since then. (Obviously most college students don’t get more sleep than in high school, but I was one of those awesome college students who loved to go to bed before midnight)

  58. queuno
    March 4, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    1. Yes, teens need more sleep.

    2. EMS has nothing to do with it. Schoolwork has nothing to do with it. Extracurricular activities and jobs have nothing to do with it. Turn off the darn TV, unplug the Xbox, and take away the cell phone and iPod. Then they’ll go to bed at 9pm.

    3. RTS is one reason I will not move to Utah. Comparing their HS graduation requirements to Texas … well, I’d rather stay in Texas. I did EMS, my wife did RTS. Comparing experiences, we feel that EMS is the better way to go – the teachers can’t possibly be any worse than in RTS. And looking at the EMS teachers our stake calls – we’d jump at the chance to have our children attend. Our stake seeks out the best of the best…

    4. Our high schools start at 8:30 and we have two EMS start times — 7am if you don’t have a before-school activity and 6am if you do.

    5. Frankly, one of the biggest impediments to EMS on Thursday mornings are the YM/YW programs on Wednesday night. If I were forced to pick between the two, my children would attend EMS than YW/YM. I just think that EMS is that important.

    6. And finally, to Jim D’s point, I’m eternally grateful I live in a Texas school district where football isn’t king (where we routinely vote against stadium bonds, artificial turf bonds, etc.).

  59. Stephanie
    March 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    I didn’t know there were Texas school districts where football isn’t king. That’s nice to have 2 different seminary start times. queuno, I had none of those things in your #2. It really was extra-curriculars, jobs and homework that kept me up late.

  60. jks
    March 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Despite its problems, I am glad that my children will have the opportunity to attend EMS. I did RTS (1 year) and home study with an hour before Mutual (3 years). I enjoyed (basically) both but would have enjoyed an EMS experience. I think it is good to help counteract all of that negative influence they get at school.
    However, I just wonder what the cost is and if there is a way to lessen that cost.

  61. Cameron
    March 5, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I attended EMS and 14 years later after graduating I can’t remember one single thing I learned. I remember going and who the teachers were but what was taught, no clue. I did relatively well in school although I missed seminary a few times but did the make up work. I remember falling asleep in classes but nothing out of the ordinary. Now, every single guy I attended seminary with is totally inactive and some girls but not all. From a “success” POV I am doing the worst financially then all the inactive guys and I had a failed marriage-others have not except one other person.

  62. March 5, 2010 at 1:13 am

    What I remember of EMS is one teacher. Her daughter and my sister were close friends; perhaps that’s why I remember her.

    The other three years I have no recollection of names. After EMS was finished I was required to wait, alone but for one other student, for a bus that came by the chapel to pick us up, along with the neighborhood kids who smoked under the eaves of the meetinghouse, also waiting.

    What I remember of EMS material is the material my parents took time to review with me *outside* of the EMS class time.

    Think about that. EMS, for learning, was entirely useless, except that one teacher, remembered through a family connection. EMS material learned in a family setting is stuff I recall 25 years later.

  63. Cameron Nielsen
    March 5, 2010 at 4:04 am

    I learned little from EMS my freshman year (I only remember the teacher told us how her friend committed adultery twice and excommunication helped her, and that she speculated that Lot’s wife was nuked. No joke.), but it was good to read the scriptures since I wasn’t in the habit at the time. Sophomore-Senior year, my release-time seminary teacher taught me more memorable principles, but he never gave us homework. I wish he would have. I appreciated seminary, and feel it was a positive influence in my life, although I wasn’t making good choices at the time.

  64. March 5, 2010 at 8:14 am

    “What I remember of EMS material is the material my parents took time to review with me *outside* of the EMS class time.

    EMS material learned in a family setting is stuff I recall 25 years later.”

    As a primary educator, I think that this statement is true for all primary and secondary education. It is somewhat different when you get to post-secondary school, of course. But one can just as rightly state that any material learned in a family setting is stuff you will recall 25 years later.

    It is one of the great mantras of education: parental involvement is key to student success.

  65. Peter LLC
    March 5, 2010 at 9:38 am

    When I was in early morning seminary it met at 6 a.m. and I had to get up at 5 am to get there on time. I thought that was all kinds of character-building, and like Alex T. I was an awesome, overachieving student. But it seems I wasn’t part of the chosen generation after all since my former stake has now implemented early early morning seminary at 5:30 for the band kids.

    In my current far-flung ward serving a city of 1.7 million or so, the only option for a long time was for the seminary kids meet on Thursday evenings down at the stake center. Now that several families have moved into the same block with teenagers that attend the same private school, however, the early morning option is available to anyone who wants to make the trip to their living room.

    Which brings me to my point: perhaps a solution that would satisfy the character-building through corporal punishment faction as well as those who like to spend time with their families would be to do just that–have early morning seminary in your living room.

  66. Kristine
    March 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I have a son with an autism-spectrum disorder. He functions quite well in a normal classroom most of the time, but simply can’t handle sleep deprivation. It makes me angry that if we choose to respect his biological needs, he (and, indirectly, I) will be stigmatized as not righteous or diligent enough to attend early morning seminary. His social life at church is difficult enough without the added burden of a mistaken belief that abusing the physical body is evidence of spiritual superiority. We’re generally not ascetic in our religion–why should we force our teens to be? Discipline and self-mastery include respect for the body’s health, and avoidance of overindulgence, not a denial of the body’s real, healthy needs.

    (Incidentally, I *loved* early morning seminary. But I have since realized that I am an outlier in my morning-person-ness. There’s tons of research showing that teens’ circadian rhythms shift back so that they really DON’T sleep well before midnight, no matter how many times you quote the D&C at them.)

  67. In NJ
    March 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

    @Matt A.: No one deserves to be spiritually berated because they are tired, even if they now live in Nevada. Like I said, I still have troubles going to sleep before midnight and waking before 8am. And, I agree with you completely: no matter when I go to sleep at night, the earlier I wake the more tired I feel. And, like Kristine, I don’t think quoting D&C to them will do any good.

    But, I can’t let the serious deficiencies in the study’s logic, as well as those vehemently opposed to EMS go unopposed (beaten past death by now, I’m sure). The problem we also face is that we are trending toward LONGER in-class school days, more extra-curricular activities, and more technology keeping us awake. Delaying the start time of school will only hurt us, unless we buck some of those trends as well.

    Kids are being overburdened with other things, and not being able to spend enough time as kids, with friends and with family. One hour later will do no good, and getting rid of seminary instruction would be, I believe, a disservice as our culture becomes more amoral.

  68. Kristine
    March 5, 2010 at 11:43 am

    in NJ–agreed. We fight the technology and overscheduling, too. No TV in the house, one shared family computer, etc. I wouldn’t argue for a change in seminary or school time if I were letting my kids stay up playing video games.

  69. Mark B.
    March 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Only when all the General Authorities who got up and milked cows, hoed the garden, collected the eggs, herded the sheep and chopped wood for an hour every morning and then again in the evening have passed on to their eternal rewards is it likely that complaints about teenagers having to get up too early, or having too much to do, will gain any traction.

    But, my oldest daughter, who did none of those things, did attend the best high school in the country–about an hour commute by subway from home–was on the cross country/track teams, was a member of what they called Term Council (student government) for all four years—-and was the president of it her senior year, got good grades and could have gone to any university in the country, and went to seminary all four years (usually it had to start earlier because of her schedule). And look how good she turned out!

    Of course, she’s probably smarter and nicer (to say nothing about better-looking) than all of your kids, so maybe we shouldn’t extrapolate from her example. : )

  70. Mark B.
    March 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    By the way, I think all the complaints about long school days and too much extracurricular activity ignore the real busy-ness that people of a few generations back experienced. Maybe it was just a few lucky generations (including mine) who escaped the farm/small town chores but got into college before the blight of AYSO and its ilk descended on the land who think that today’s kids have too much to do.

  71. In NJ
    March 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    @Mark B: Necessity v. choice

  72. jjohnsen
    March 5, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    My problem isn’t kids staying up playing Xbox, it’s catching them with a flashlight under their covers reading books. I have a harder time telling them to stop reading than I do telling them no Xbox or television on school nights.

    All of this seems pretty simple. If I thought lack of sleep from early morning seminary was affecting my kids academically, I’d pull them out and take care of it at home.

  73. Mark B.
    March 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm


    It’s pretty simple until you (1) try negotiating the CES standards on home study where there’s an early morning seminary class available (I think “when hell freezes over” applies to that situation) or (2) decide (you or your child) that he wants to go to a church university, and can’t get in because he didn’t attend seminary.

  74. Mark B.
    March 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    in NJ

    I don’t think that the reason for all the activity (choice or need) has any effect on how tired it makes one.

  75. In NJ
    March 5, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    @ Mark B.: You haven’t really been reading what I have been saying. And, while I agree that tiredness is independent of the necessity of activities which occupy your time, the problems faced are different. Overburdening does not mean that your daughter cannot participate as she did. In fact, I would encourage it for those who can handle it. It is merely a matter of personal discipline–what one can actually handle. Something like, “do not run faster than you have strength….” Parents not helping their children become more disciplined (within the meaning advanced by Kristine in #66) is much more a problem than the start time of school.

  76. Mark B.
    March 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Actually, In NJ, I hadn’t read (whether actually or not) anything you wrote, and not many of the other comments, before I commented. That may be why I didn’t understand where you were coming from in #71.

  77. Stephanie
    March 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Good points, NJ. Kristine, we had a similar situation in one of my wards. One of the YW took medication for ADHD. If she woke up too early and took it, it would wear off too soon in the day.

    I can’t remember if someone already mentioned this, but seminary isn’t just for the facts we learn. It’s for learning to listen to the Spirit and identify truth and providing protection. So many of our kids in our ward always bear their testimony about being grateful for the strength seminary gives them each day. I think there is a lot of power in that.

  78. Anon
    March 5, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Well, maybe it’s strength. Or maybe it’s just easier to manipulate them into thinking that their emotional response to a maudlin story or sentimental video is “the Spirit” when they’re sleep-deprived. We just have to hope they don’t eventually wake up, I guess.

  79. Ellis
    March 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I’m not sure what the purpose of seminary is or ever was. I do know that a goodly portion of the early morning seminary kids sleep through the classes. The quality of the work that some of them do to earn awards is very low.

    Recently our school board turned down a plan to start high school later. Parents showed up in droves to let them know they didn’t want it.

    #73 After going to meeting with people from BYU we thought seminary graduation was required for admissions. It was only later in talking with someone who works for CES that we learned it is not a requirement. It can and probably usually is a factor however. Unfortunately the people in our ward used it as a way to convince the kids they had to be there and they had to be there on time or they wouldn’t get credit. The emphasis changed from having spiritual experiences to something else.

  80. Mark B.
    March 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Just in time, the Church News has an article today on the stalwart youth of the Chicago 1st Ward who arise well before the break of day to get to seminary. That’ll teach you!

    (Their website seems to be asleep right now–maybe it’s recovering from all those early mornings.)

  81. kik~
    March 7, 2010 at 3:15 am

    It is interesting to read about all of this while living in Korea (we’re Americans).

    The High School students here start school around 7 AM. They finish at around 10 PM — we see them walking home– though many of them are not walking home. They are on their way to tutors or study schools, were they will continue to study until midnight.

    They are so tired, fall asleep in church tired.

    There is no YM/YW, they don’t have a week night free for such things. Seminary is sometimes held every other Saturday.

    The kids here can’t believe how lucky American teens are to play sports…

    I don’t love the Korean model, but the kids are smart.

  82. Dean
    March 10, 2010 at 12:39 am

    It seems to me that this post is more a rant against CES than about getting enough sleep. Let me give you the perspective of someone who feels like a shot goose after reading.

    1. There are no volunteer teachers in seminary or institute any more. Since June 2008 they all became stake callings. Teachers are real, normal people, whether called or hired. I am sorry if you had one that wasn’t inspiring and life changing. I did. I want that for my children..

    2. Seminary class times, to my knowledge have always been a local decision made by the local Church Board of Education, not by anyone in Salt Lake. If you think there is a better time to hold seminary you should talk to your stake leaders. Salt Lake has nothing to do with that decision. But my experience is that for most parents sports, band, AP classes, or lessons will take priority.

    3. Salt Lake does dictate the course of study for Seminary and things like classes are to be held every day the kids go to high school (and 250 minutes per week).

    4. I think seminary is worth sacrificing for. For instance, I don’t know Julie Smith personally, but for reading her on this blog. If she were my kids seminary teacher, I would rather they gave up sports, piano lessons, band, AP classes, or sleep, before I would feel good about them giving up seminary.

    I love Seminary and Institute, but then I am prejudiced.

  83. Steve
    March 10, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Whilst there are differing views on early morning seminary the effect on youth etc. what I am concerned about is the attitude of some that seminary is less important than sport, music, employment and other extra curricular activities. If you demonstrate this attitude to your children, then they will see seminary is not important to you and therefore not important to them. Ive seen paretns who always complain about having to get up, well you’ve lost them already.

  84. March 10, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I just got Tim Heaton’s Health, Wealth, and Social Life: A Statistical Analysis of the Mormons” , and as fuel for the fire, he does not that on the one hand, Mormon High Schoolers on average scored lower in Math and English (than the national average), but on the other hand, were more likely to be in Honors Programs(than the national average). Of course, it has no break out for release-time vs. early morning seminary there.

  85. Louise H.
    March 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I had early morning seminary but my school also had only 6 periods and got out at 2:20 each day. And, one of those periods was always PE or team sports. So after school the only thing I had to do was homework and I had the luxury of going to bed at 9 so I could get enough sleep. Things are different for my teenagers. They have school from 8-4 which includes 8 classes everyday with a 25 min lunch and no PE or team sports. So sports or any kind of exercise must take place after school. In our case that is swimming or soccer which is from 4:30 till 6:30. Home at 7 and then eat and do homework which takes us to 10 if we rush and if it wasn’t a heavy homework day. Then to sleep hopefully by 10:30 and up at 5:45 for seminary at 6:15. 7 hours 15 minutes sleep. My son had no problems that I could tell with this schedule but he was very bright and didn’t have to devote the amount of time to homework that my daughters do. He would often fall asleep in his classes but healthwise seemed to survive alright. I now have two daughters in seminary and the very bright one does okay because even though she sleeps through classes at school she rarely does much homework. My other daughter struggles and it is painful to be apart of. She is constantly tired and is slow to understand and complete assignments. She is anxious and depressed and sometimes to an level where she can no longer function. I do blame sleep deprivation for her problems. She is fine with enough sleep but falls apart after a few days with way less than enough. The professionals I’ve taken her to say she accounts for about 20-25 % of people that share many of her traits and that she needs her sleep. I think the higher ups really need to look into the sleep problem our youth are experiencing. It is damaging to their emotional well being and it is awful for the family and the relationship with the parents. The only time I see her during the schooldays is to rush her through her homework and bedtime routine and then try to get her out the door in the morning as fast as possible. I blame the longer school day and the over abundance of classes as well as the lack of PE at school but short of homeschooling her or moving I don’t know how to solve the dilemma and i am fast becoming fed up with seminary. I am thinking about moving to Utah because I can’t stand to continue to put my kids through a schedule that is so unhealthy for them and I’ve got 12 years of seminary to go…ugh!!

  86. March 17, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I’d love to see CES develop a distance-learning course for Seminary; something that kids like Louise’s can use to fit in gospel study with the rest of the schedule.

    Because that’s the point, isn’t it? To include gospel study and a full reading of the Standard Works in a teenager’s education?

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