The report by the Prince's Trust suggested that those with poor exam results were twice as likely to claim their days lacked structure as they grew up.
Researchers spoke to 2,136 16 to 25-year-olds and found that more than a quarter did not have a set bedtime while growing up.
Fourteen per cent of young people said they had grown up without set mealtimes, compared with 30 per cent of those with poor exam grades.
Just over a quarter didn't have a set bedtime when they were growing up, which rose to 39 per cent for those who left school with fewer than five good GCSEs.
The results comes from the charity's latest annual Youth Index, which looks at how young people feel about their lives across a range of areas from family life to physical health.
It also suggested those who felt they "lacked structure and direction" while growing up also appeared to be less content and confident than their peers.
One in three of those with lower qualifications (33 per cent) said they "always" or "often" felt rejected, compared with about one in five young people (22 per cent) overall.
The absence of structure and routine in a young life can have a devastating impact, said Princes Trust chief executive Martina Milburn.
"Without the right support, directionless teenagers can become lost young adults - unconfident, underqualified and unemployed."
What do you think? Do you think set routines are important? Do you try and maintain a routine or is it always sabotaged?