As summer draws to an end and school starts back up again, parents everywhere are dreading the process of having to get their sleepy children up and ready for school each morning. Some parents certainly have it worse than others, like the Atlanta, Georgia, mom who describes her 10-year-old Sophie as "impossible." This mom had tried everything, including gently rubbing Sophie's back, playing loud music and getting the dogs to pounce on Sophie's bed, but nothing was working. That's when she decided to enlist the help of an Atlanta radio show called "The Bert Show."
A video published on August 10, 2015, shows the team at "The Bert Show" sending a five-part jazz band — Blair Crimmins and the Hookers — to give Sophie a hilarious wake-up that she'll never forget. Radio host Bert Weiss waits on the phone as the band startles Sophie out of dreamland. Sophie's a great sport about the whole ordeal and smiles as Bert tells her over the phone that if she doesn't get her act together and get up when she's supposed to, she'll have plenty more jazz band wake-ups in the future. Quick to quip back, Sophie simply says, "I gotta get some earplugs."
While it can be endlessly frustrating to deal with a child who just won't get up in the morning, it's not entirely the child's fault. Every person has his own chronotype, which is the disposition an individual possesses that determines what parts of the day are used for activity versus rest, which is why some people are natural early birds and others are natural late risers. A study performed at Germany's Aachen University that utilized brain scans from early risers, intermediate risers and late risers found that there is actually a difference in brain structure for late risers.
Scientists found that late risers, also referred to as night owls, had diminished integrity of white matter in their brains. Some scientists speculate the reason is the stress that results when night owls try to structure their lives around a societal schedule that doesn't match their natural sleeping and waking patterns. For example, if you would naturally wake up at 11 a.m. and go to sleep at 1 a.m., but you have to be at work each morning at 9 a.m., you make yourself go to sleep at 10 p.m. and wake at 7 a.m. As a result, you're likely to experience excess fatigue, discomfort and difficulty focusing throughout the day — much like experiencing jet lag. If this theory is correct, kids like Sophie experience a literal change in brain structure from years of being forced to comply with an early schedule that doesn't match with an internal biological clock. Regardless of whether this theory is correct, the difference in brain structure tells us that there is something bigger going on than just apathy or laziness when a late riser has trouble getting up early.
While it's totally understandable that Sophie's mom is frustrated that she can't get her daughter out of bed, poor Sophie is mostly just experiencing the struggle of having a chronotype that doesn't align with the requirements of an early-rising society. Perhaps some day kids will start school at different times throughout the day to facilitate better learning, but until then, parents may just have to get creative to get their late risers up and out the door.