How to Get Your Teen Out of Bed on Time for School

Young woman trying to get out of bed
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Waking up early for school is difficult for most teens. And there’s research that suggests they aren’t just being oppositional—their inability to wake up may be biologically based.

Teens need about nine hours of sleep for optimal performance and development. However, research has shown that most teens are actually getting less than seven hours of sleep each night. Other studies also show that most teens’ natural sleep patterns cause them to stay up late, until around 11 p.m., which makes it difficult for them to wake up early for school.

Despite teen’s natural sleep cycles, learning how to wake up in the morning and get out of bed on the days you don’t feel like it is a life skill. Teach your teen how to do so now, so when they're an adult, they can make it to work on time even on the days when they don’t feel like it.

How to Get Your Teen to Wake Up

Getting teens up on time for school is a perpetual struggle for many families. Below, are multiple ways you can help you teen get out of bed.

Remove Electronics From the Bedroom

Create rules that limit your teen's electronics use. Too much screen time can interfere with sleep in more ways than one. Don’t allow your teen to take his cell phone or laptop into his bedroom at night. If your teen receives a text message from a friend at 2 a.m., he may be tempted to reply. He may also be tempted to check his social media accounts in the middle of the night if he has access to it.

Sometimes, teens want to sleep with the TV on at night. But keeping the TV on can also interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. If your teen has a TV in his bedroom, establish a mandatory time that it must be shut off.

Set a Bedtime

Most parents relax a little bit about bedtime during the teenage years. While offering more freedom is developmentally appropriate, a complete lack of bedtime rules may lead to teens staying up until the wee hours of the morning. Provide some guidance about bedtime to encourage healthy sleep habits.

Create Weekend Sleeping Rules

It can be tempting for teens to stay up all night and sleep all day on the weekends and during school vacations. This can wreak havoc on their schedules during the school week. Don’t allow your teen to sleep all day when he has days off. Establish a reasonable bedtime and enforce a reasonable wake-up time.

Discourage Afternoon Naps

Your teen may want to take a nap when she gets home from school. But that can interfere with her nighttime sleep and reinforce the cycle of staying up late and feeling tired during the day. If your teen comes home from school feeling tired, encourage exercise and outdoor activity along with an earlier bedtime.

Provide Consequences

If your teen’s refusal to get out of bed is leading to more problems—like he’s late for school—you may need to start instilling consequences. Use logical consequences, like taking away privileges. If your teen is bothered by the fact that he’s late for school, the natural consequence of being late may be consequence enough.

Offer Incentives

Link your teen’s privileges to their responsible behavior. If they want to use the car on Friday night, you’ll need to know he can be responsible enough to get ready for school on time. If they want rides to spend time with friends, tell them they can when they show they can get out of bed on time. Create a reward system to link positive behavior to incentives.

Increase Your Teen’s Responsibility

Waking your teen up repeatedly and arguing with him to get out of bed won’t be helpful to him in the future. Teens need to learn how to get themselves ready independently—unless you plan to still be dragging him out of bed when he’s an adult. Problem-solve together how he can get himself ready more independently.

Seek Professional Help

If your teen’s ability to get out of bed is interfering with his life you may need to seek professional help. Start by talking to your teen’s doctor to rule out any potential medical issues. Sometimes teens can experience sleep disorders or other medical issues that increase fatigue.

Once you’ve ruled out physical health problems, it may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional. Sometimes mental health problems, like depression or anxiety disorders, can interfere with sleep.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bauducco SV, Flink IK, Boersma K, Linton SJ. Preventing sleep deficit in adolescents: Long-term effects of a quasi-experimental school-based intervention study. J Sleep Res. 2020;29(1):e12940. doi:10.1111/jsr.12940

  2. Twenge JM, Krizan Z, Hisler G. Decreases in self-reported sleep duration among U.S. adolescents 2009-2015 and association with new media screen timeSleep Med. 2017;39:47‐53. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2017.08.013

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Additional Reading

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.