My Failed Sleep Attempt

Like most teenagers, I don’t get much sleep. I’m lucky if I get four hours of sleep every night. I’m one of those people who loses time after 10:30 p.m.

I’ll start reading a book, thinking it’ll take just a few minutes. But all of a sudden hours have passed, it’s four in the morning and I have to wake up in two hours for school.

Sound familiar?

I tried to change that this year.  

So what happens when an night owl tries to get eight hours of sleep every night for a week?


(Thursday) 1/12: The first and restless night

I started the night optimistically, with visions of the sort of sleep that only my dog seems to get when he passes out and snores contentedly for hours at a time. I knew I wanted that kind of sleep.  

My dog, Major, sleeping contently.

A movie was playing out in my mind of how happy I’d be when I’d wake up the next morning. Like in those cliché Hollywood movies, I’d wake up the next morning with my hair softly tousled rubbing sleep from my eyes, splash water on my face to wake up, and go about my day completely awake and enthusiastic to be in this world.

This is how it really happened.

It wasn’t that pretty.  

I took a shower at 10 that night and really lingered in the cold water, wanting for my body to be completely relaxed. I then changed into my comfiest Star Wars pajamas. If anything could help me achieve the night of my dreams, it’d be the Force.

But it didn’t end there. I wanted it to be even more perfect than that.     

I went to my kitchen and made a cup of herbal tea. My mother drinks herbal tea every night before bed and it helps her, so it should me, right?  

At first, I thought it would work. I felt my eyes fall heavy while the warm minty steam hit my face.

Crawling into bed, mug in hand, I finished sipping the glorious liquid. I put my mug on my bedside table and laid down. At 10:30 p.m. I felt ready to sleep and I was convinced I’d sleep for the next eight hours, just like my dog.   

I laid there for what seemed like hours. I was frustrated and looked at my phone. IT WAS FREAKING 10:45 and I was sooo upset because my perfect eight hours of sleep was demolished. So much for my movie. Like Icarus, I had flown too close to the sun.

Then I stared into the darkness of my room and thought about how much sleep I wasn’t getting from staying awake. Then I counted down and at 10:50 p.m., I was distraught by the thought that I would only get seven hours and 40 minutes of sleep. But that was only if I fell asleep that second.

Guess what?

I didn’t fall asleep that second.  

But I must have fallen asleep eventually because I had a weird dream where I woke up and couldn’t go to sleep.

Even my dreams were telling me that eight hours wasn’t going to happen.

Not only that, but in the dream I started crying about how left-handed people are discriminated in the right-handed world.

My mind tends to go to weird places when I dream.

When the alarm clock in the corner of my room woke me up, I felt as though I hadn’t slept at all. I must have gotten seven and a half hours of sleep, but my dream ruined the experience for me.    

I stayed in bed for a moment, listening to my alarm’s piercing ring.

The discrimination of left-handed people (something that normally doesn’t cross my mind) left me so emotionally worn out that I couldn’t even get out of bed.

I was not meant to be one with the Force that night.  



(Friday) 1/13:

Based on the previous night, I didn’t expect to sleep that well. I didn’t go through a special routine in order to lull myself into a deep sleep. I didn’t even wear my Star Wars pajamas. I just went to bed, thinking I’d be up for awhile.   

But to my delight, I fell asleep right when I got to bed at 10:20 p.m. The best part? I was out cold the whole night. Fourth of July fireworks couldn’t have woken me up.

My alarm went off and I got up. I didn’t stay in bed for an extra five minutes like I usually do. I felt rejuvenated when I woke up. My thoughts were crystal clear.

Maybe it was because I didn’t wear the pajamas, or because the satisfaction of warm tea didn’t keep me awake or because I didn’t have high expectations. Whatever it was, it worked.

Sleep is marvelous; it has the ability to make or break your day. On any other Friday I would be drained of all energy. Usually I’m a shell of myself, wiped out from the week. However, today, I was able to focus in my classes. I smiled at people in the hallways? That never happens.

At this point in time, I thought getting eight hours a night was feasible. My poor, ignorant mind.



(Saturday) 1/14:

I literally got two hours of sleep that night. My uncle was diagnosed with liver cancer after he beat pancreatic cancer six months ago. It was very saddening and the news threw me off.

I felt like the top from Inception wobbling at the end.

That wasn’t it. To top it all off, I had to be at school at 2:30 in the morning for a Science Olympiad competition that day. But I was so stressed about the competition that I didn’t get to bed until 11 p.m.

The alarm went off at 1 a.m.. My limbs wouldn’t move and my world didn’t feel real because I was so exhausted. Sky blue walls filled my vision and the alarm’s shrill voice “duh-duh-duh-beep, duh-duh-duh-beep” hurt my numb ears.

When I finally jumped out of bed, I was in that weird state where I was very tired and could cry because of stress and feeling very drained off all energy.

But I didn’t. I stumbled to my bathroom and proceeded to get ready.

Then I was on a bus for five hours, and slept for maybe one hour.

It was an awful hour.

It is impossible to sleep on a bus with the freshman singing random songs and the temperature fluctuating between 10 and 105 degrees.

We got to competition around seven in the morning. When I walked into the main building, my nose perked up.


Running to the room, I threw my stuff down and went back down to get a coffee. My senses perked and I felt a small tremble through my body.

A lot of caffeine was consumed that day.

On the bus ride back I didn’t sleep at all. But I had Chipotle for dinner so it was all okay.



(Sunday) 1/15:

As soon as I saw my bed, I ran to it and jumped into its comfy embrace. No routine was needed, I crashed. It was probably around 11 p.m.

“Duh-duh-duh-beepat 7 a.m. was the next thing that I was aware of. I slept like a rock that night. It was wonderful to be cozy in bed and feel all fuzzy inside.

Church that day was a little busy. I run the slides for the middle school worship service and that went by pretty quick this time.

But no matter how good I felt physically, my mind was worn out. I decided to take a five-hour nap when I got home from church.

When I decided to take a nap I thought about how nice it’d feel. I’d wake up refreshed and ready to get some work done.  

But no.

My eyes hurt and my head felt like a brick hit it. It was a restless nap that didn’t really help.



(Monday) 1/16:

I went to bed at 12:30 a.m. and I woke up at 8 a.m. because it was MLK day.

My sleep was riddled with nightmares; I don’t think I slept much. At this point, getting eight solid hours for a week seemed near impossible.

I finished volunteering at St. Mark’s church; around noon could barely process my own thoughts around lunch time.

The world, or maybe just my body, was wrapped up in a dense fog, it was too glary to do anything and my muscles felt like they were wading through a milkshake. Perhaps I was coming down with something.



(Tuesday) 1/17:

Both my parents were sick and I was feeling under the weather. I didn’t want to this ailment to progress, so, I went to bed at 11 p.m. and woke up at 8:30 a.m.

Unfortunately, my fears were becoming reality.  

My throat felt like someone was collapsing it from the inside and my nose felt as if someone had jabbed feather dusters up it. I took a Mucinex, which magically took out the feather dusters, and went to school.

The hot tea I drank coated my throat and soothed it. The person inside my throat released their grip. This helped me immensely to get me through the day.

My eyes didn’t ache to close and I didn’t feel the urge to lay down on my desk. When I got home, I sat at the bar and did ALL my homework. No feather dusters bothered my nose.

The decision to wake up late saved me. However, going to sleep earlier would have been just as beneficial.



(Wednesday) 1/18:

Sleep is a strange concept and I don’t understand how people can get so much of it.

I was in bed at 10:20 p.m. but I decided I could be on my phone for a few minutes and before I knew it, it was 12:30 a.m.

The perils of being a night owl.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and hit the alarm and woke up late at 7 a.m. I felt fine once I was out of bed, and I didn’t even have caffeine, but I did have Advil for the caffeine headache I knew I’d get later.

Sure, my day felt long, but it wasn’t impossible to get through. That’s how most days feel for me.



This experiment taught me that I have no control over my sleep schedule and that’s bad because sleep is important and helps your brain function properly.

I was able to notice huge differences in my attitude and mental capacity when I did get good sleep. And I will continue to try to get good sleep… somehow.


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My Failed Sleep Attempt