Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Should teenagers be able to sleep themselves through their school years?

Noon – Rest from Work (1890) by Vincent van Gogh (after Millet), Public Domain,
Noon – Rest from Work (1890) by Vincent van Gogh (after Millet), Public Domain,

No, I’m not referring to boring teachers. Rather, it seems that teenagers need to sleep longer to function (and learn) well. Science now says that optimally, teenagers should sleep 8 – 10 hours per day! California just passed a law forbidding school to start too early. Good for them for doing a little bit more what’s right for kids. Many generations will profit.

I remember that until I was 15 (in 1968, the Netherlands), I needed to go to bed at 8 PM (which I hated) and wake-up time was 6:45 AM (which I hated). After 15, I was allowed to stay up until 8:30 PM. No kidding. But when I told my Israeli high school kids, 40 years later, that mobile phones had not improved the brains of people into needing less sleep than I needed at their age, that 11 PM must be way too late, they laughed. Daddy is so old-fashioned.

Not only that, Israeli society trains everyone to sleep too little, too late. My kids sometimes learned through the night — just before important Jewish days as an extra effort at repentance. In the army, the more responsibility you get, the fewer hours of sleep they give you. (There’s a mandatory minimum of 6 hours (which is way too little) but not for commanders who frequently, in 3 days, don’t get a total of 8 hours.) While Europe drinks itself legless “for fun,” (I abhor all attempts, just for profit, to normalize the consumption of alcohol in Israel; no, beer is not cool and wine is not chic — to have those is stupid.) Israelis use legal speed all the time: chocolate (milk, cookies, cake), coffee, cola, sugar. A People of Speedy Gonzaleses.

Talking of too little sleep time for kids, scientists suggest that too much screen time is also not OK. I doubt it. These are all statistical correlations, not causal ones. No one believes that one becomes shy from being too much on the phone or pc. Rather, the causality must be the other way around. This is not to say that physical activity and playing/talking with friends are not crucial. When my kids pleaded to sit behind the computer, I almost always took a ball and said: out! All my kids gratefully have great social skills and endless amounts of non-virtual friends to every degree.

* * *

Actually, there is a divide-and-conquer reason for the different times people need to wake up and return home in the industrial world.

First, the manual workers will travel. Heaven forbid that an intellectual should have to share a bus or the road with them.

Then, primary-school kids. This before the white-collar workers go to and return from their offices. School is not just to train children. It’s smeared out over long schooldays and years as a form of state-sponsored “baby”-sitting. Not as a courtesy but rather, to make their parents free to join the workforce after which they can go home and care for ‘their’ kids for free.

Then, office workers commute, together with university kids.

Ever noticed, speaking of travel by the classes, that a crash in a fancy car may leave occupants unharmed while society is fine with unsafe cars that get laborers easily maimed and killed as if they are cheap and replaceable?

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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