Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

Sleep deprived? Get the sleep you need and the life you want.

Sleep deprived? Get the sleep you need and the life you want.
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You’re a teenager, so you slept nine hours last night.

No?

OK, fine. You got eight and a half hours of brain-restoring shut-eye.

Not even?

Then let’s talk. Every scientific study says you need at least that much sleep, and every sleep survey says you’re getting less. Maybe a lot less. Which means you’re not as sharp as you should be. Not as healthy as you could be. All because you’re not sleeping enough.

Good news: You can fix that. Read on.

Boost your grades…with your eyes closed!

A team from Brown University surveyed 3,000 high school students to determine why some students got As and Bs, while others got Cs and Ds. Of course, you might be thinking that the high school students who got As and Bs were just plain smarter than the rest?sleeping high school girl

Yeah, you need more sleep.

The survey found that those high school students who got As and Bs got nearly half an hour more sleep than those who got Cs and Ds.

Recent research explains why: Fatigue shrinks your brain. Scientists at the University of Bristol discovered as much while studying the effect of jet lag on airline crews. Fatigue also increases a stress hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol has been shown to reduce the ability of people to perform arithmetic, remember names and facts, and to express complex ideas by as much as 75%.

Which may be why one Cornell University psychologist characterizes the world’s sleep-deprived teenagers as “walking zombies.”

Sleep habits of highly successful people

You might be wondering about those top-performing teenagers—the ones who got that extra sleep every night. You might be wondering about their secret. Especially if you’re sleep deprived.

Here’s the “secret”: They go to bed earlier—on average, 40 minutes earlier—than their academically-struggling classmates.

Easier said than done. Most teenagers’ natural sleep cycles mean it’s hard to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m.2300 hours But many school schedules force these same teenagers to get up at 6:00 a.m. So how can you join those high-performing students who have gone to sleep long before their low-performing peers?

The five-week Zombie Cure

Here’s a gradual approach based on the latest sleep science. Just be forewarned: The Zombie Cure probably won’t get you on the sleep schedule of champions tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or even next week. It could take as many as five weeks to reprogram your brain’s sleeping habits. And then you may need another few weeks to get yourself on the sleep schedule that works for you. But you WILL get there. And no one will call you a zombie again.

bloodshot boob tube

Week one: sleep programming

You’re not forcing yourself onto a different sleep cycle. You’re programming your brain to understand when it’s time to sleep, and when it’s time to be awake. Here’s how the first week goes:

A calm brain is a brain ready to power down. So, thirty minutes before bedtime, you begin your pre-sleep ritual.

You have your homework done. If that’s impossible, you’ve finished with homework that requires the use of electronic devices like your computer. Save textbook-based homework for last. You stay away from your computer, X-box, TV. Period. You read a book. You take a shower or a bath. You eat a banana (bananas contain melatonin and serotonin, enzymes associated with sleepiness) or you eat some kind of protein that makes you feel full, and reduces the odds that you’ll wake up hungry.

When it’s time to sleep, you make sure you can actually sleep where you’re sleeping. You keep your room dark. You keep your room quiet. (Wear earplugs if you need to.)

In the morning, as quickly as you can, you go outside and get daylight on your face. Daylight—even on overcast days—reprograms the body’s sleep cycle, and lets your brain know it’s time to rise and shine.

You stick to this routine for a week, or until you find yourself drifting off within minutes of turning out light.

Week two

cartoon of pink haired girl sitting in bed at night counting her 256th sheep

Caffeine after six? Tsk-tsk.

You go to bed ten minutes earlier. Same bedtime routine, moved up by just ten minutes. You do this for a week.

Week three

You go to bed ten minutes earlier. Same bedtime routine, moved up by just ten minutes. You do this for a week.

Week four

You go to bed ten minutes earlier. Same bedtime routine, moved up by just ten minutes. You do this for a week.

Week five

You go to bed ten minutes earlier. Same bedtime routine, moved up by just ten minutes. Congratulations. You’ve moved your bedtime back by 40 minutes. You’re ready to join the winner’s circle.

Oh, and about that Diet Coke you like to have after dinner? No caffeine after 6:00 p.m. Don’t even think about it.

Zombie.


Got tips for snagging shut-eye? Let us know!


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