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Winter Sleep

In the winter, our whole family seems to need more sleep.  We go to bed earlier, get up later, and repeat.  Daily.  And yearly.

Now, I know we’re not the only ones.  In fact, I’ve heard that this is a normal physiological response to winter.  I’m so thankful that we can just rest as we need to, and are not tied to a strict schedule.

As homeschoolers, we can sleep in and start schoolwork an hour later.  We can go to bed early without finishing our day’s work..because there is always tomorrow.

But I wonder how families that attend school manage.  The schoolbus will come at the same time each day.  Deadlines are deadlines.  Exams happen, no matter how tired you are.

I recall having a lot of colds when I was going to school.  I certainly did not learn to listen to my body, but rather learned to grit my teeth and keep on going despite how I felt.

Now, being tough and determined can be a good thing if necessary, and listening to your body can be another route to self-indulgence.   There needs to be a wise balance.  After all, Proverbs has a lot to say about the sluggard, and none of it is good.  On the other hand, God does ‘give his beloved sleep’ as well as a day off each week.

But for children and teens who normally get up early and are usually hard to put to bed, this yearly sleepiness is not a character flaw.  I’m grateful my children have the chance to rest when they need it.

I’m thankful that Miss 9, who fell asleep in less than five minutes of cozy snuggling last night, can sleep in this morning.  I’m thankful that Miss 11, who’s been growing at an amazing rate, never needs to stay up for homework and does not need to be ready for the early morning schoolbus either.   I’m thankful that Mr. 16, growing, thinking, and studying hard, can get the rest he needs even though he has two evening events each week.

Apparently, teens need a lot of sleep but most of them get very little.  I wonder how many teen issues are due to lack of sleep?  I know I act up when I’m tired, and that’s why I nap.

On the other hand, I’m glad that Miss 14 can get up early to read or write if she chooses to.  She reminds me of bright spring mornings when the whole family is busy well before 7AM.  Am I ever looking forward to that time of year!


  1. JoAnn says:

    Yep, I think we all sleep more too. The time we get up depends on hubby’s schedule, but there have been many times I tell the kids to sleep in. Even today, we took the day off because Sarah (16) had been on a purity retreat this past weekend, then we went to a Super Bowl party, and she was just so tired. So we took the day off, and then she even took a nap today. Got to love homeschooling. 🙂

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, it’s a homeschooling benefit I’d never thought about before. 🙂

  2. Jenn4him says:

    Amen! Only thing is that I get up with my husband because he has to get up early, but I do let the kids sleep in every day. I truly believe it is much needed for the teens.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, it seems to be.

  3. Interesting thoughts on sleep… I know that I tend to be more tired in the winter due to hormonal tendencies. I’d never related that to my kids, though. What a blessing to have that flexibility as homeschoolers!!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, kids are affected too. Sometimes it’s hard to tell because they just get grumpy, but it winter sleepiness seems to be a yearly pattern, at least at our house.

      And my husband and I have also been sleepier than normal.

  4. Briana says:

    One of my major reasons I love homeschooling is sleep. I am not a morning person so I don’t know how I would get my children to school on time. 7 am is early rising for me. It is nice to be able to let the teens sleep in extra late and work their schedules a little differently.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Flexibility is such a blessing!

  5. Laraba says:

    Thought provoking post! I am an early riser though the last 2 days woke up at 7 a.m. which is very late for me. This morning I was awakened at 5 by a sick kid — poor little one.

    Anyway, I run our house on a strict schedule to get things done, and letting the kids sleep in a lot bothers me! I do let them sleep in on weekends somewhat, and if we’ve been extra busy and/or sick. But in general, I roust them out by 7:30 a.m. That of course is FAR later than most kids who go to public school. Our local schoolbus steams by at 7:30 a.m.

    One struggle for me is that we have a major chore time after breakfast, and the children depend on one another. So if one child isn’t awake and ready to empty the dishwasher, another child can’t put items IN the dishwasher. Perhaps as our older ones move towards the teen years (our eldest is 12), I will need to adjust chores so that the tired ones can sleep in.

    I too have read that teens don’t get nearly enough sleep. Teens in general seem to live crazy lives with way too much activity and not enough down time.

    Anyway, food for thought…I need to be open to different physiologies and sleep needs.

  6. Annie Kate says:

    They can sleep in the evening too, if that works better. We emphasize early bedtimes, but allow sleeping in as well, since our older children have evening events.

    If you’re rousting your kids out of bed at 7AM all year round, you may want to think about earlier bedtimes. In the summer we have to set rules for the littler ones that they must stay in bed until 6…so then we allow them to stay up later at night. I think flexibility is the key.

    Our major chore time is at 5PM. We have one child empty and fill the dishwasher, just to make sure that no one can obstruct someone else’s work. Of course, they take turns.


    Annie Kate

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