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Friend Refuses To See A Specialist

by Mitch

I know my girlfriend (16 years old) has a sleep problem; she won't accept it or seek help or get checked. During the school year, she goes to sleep around 12 most nights, sometimes even 1 or 2 am, to wake up at 6. Then, she will almost fall asleep during school, and often takes "naps" (she falls asleep in the middle of testing conversations) that last anywhere from 1-4 hours.

On the weekends, she ranges from 4-14 hours of sleep. Her tired-ness has led to her missing our dates and plans, and has fallen asleep as close to an hour before we are supposed to go out. She claims that she has been like this since 6th grade, and she's used to it. I can tell a difference in her when she is tired, which is over half the time.

Now she says she is going to stay up past midnight every day this summer. What should she do? She won't tell her parents because she doesn't want them to worry, but I know that it is affecting her. She also suffered depression in middle school, and that's why she doesn't want to tell her parents. Is there anything she/I can do? I hate seeing her tired and sad and unmotivated.

Kevin: Hey Mitch, thanks for sharing this. My gut tells me education may be your strongest tool. Conversations about the importance of sleep and how sleep deprivation affects crucial things in her life. Maybe give her a gift of a book about sleep education, like The Promise Of Sleep. Learning with her about delayed sleep phases might also be useful.

Good luck,

(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

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