Is Sleep, Like, Even A Thing?

by Ander Ochoa

April 2016 (Volume 66, Issue 3)

The blossoming of intellect, maturity, and laziness that characterizes the high school career of almost all adolescents is accompanied by another significant, though less easily observable, characteristic of teenage life: poor sleeping habits. Ninth grade marks the beginning of a time period during which youth slowly forget what a good night’s sleep feels like. Why? Because any rest that they do get after heeding the nightly “go to bed” supplications from their parents–supplications that, from the moment they are uttered, sound as if they recognize their own futility–is not plentiful. I speak from experience.

In my case, the breakdown of good sleeping habits begins once I have finished my homework. What occurs is that I simply lose my drive to go to bed. Think about that: I become lazy enough that I do not want to engage in one of the laziest activities known to living organisms (case in point for my earlier claim that high schoolers are lethargic). Instead of going to bed, I prefer to relax by watching TV, listening to music, or eating a snack. So I engage in one, two, or all of these pastimes, not paying much attention to the sure fact that the next morning, I will be cursing my decision to stay up.

My late night is followed by a morning that, I will say, seems to come very quickly. The start of my day is heralded by an alarm whose ring, regardless of its particular form–bells, strings, or xylophone–is never a pleasing sound. Now, before I go on, let me explain that I set two alarms, fifteen minutes apart, in the hope that the first alarm will wake me up halfway and that therefore, getting out of bed when the second alarm sounds will be easy.

Unfortunately, this hope is rarely mirrored by what actually takes place.

When the first alarm sounds, I get up quickly, walk the three steps to the desk where my phone lays whining, turn the alarm off, and go back to a mid-depth sleep. And so, in the end, the first alarm is responsible for waking me up to an almost nonexistent degree. Consequently, when the second alarm sounds, pulling myself out of the most heavenly place on Earth (my bed) is as unimaginably difficult as it would have been if I had set only one alarm. And of course, true to the foresight which I ignored the night before, this rise from the dead is accompanied by lamentations concerning my choice of bedtime.

Clearly, my sleep routine needs work. But despite this, my intention with this piece is not to elicit a change in the habits of the high school population, or even to blame this country’s schools for giving so much homework that students lose sleep (think about that, educational systems). On the contrary: my intention is to be lighthearted about this whole issue, to embrace the less-than-admirable rest schedule I own, and to look at things through jovial–not to mention sleepy–eyes.

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