How can a teenager handle their need for afternoon sleep

Star asks: Hey Shirelle – Every day I come from school and eat, and then I always sleep and never get the chance to look at my books, and then I always have to go to karate classes at 15:00. What can I do to stop sleeping, or at least read first before I sleep?

Hi Star –


You wrote JUST the right expert on this issue!  Let me describe an average dog’s day to you:  Wake up, wake up owner, go outside, do business, run around, bark at a few things, come inside, eat a little, go to sleep.  Get up, bark at more things, go back to sleep.  Kiss owner goodbye for day, feel horrible and abandoned, go back to sleep.  Wake up, sniff around, chase something, go back to sleep missing owner.  Wake up, sniff around more, not minding being alone so much, bark at what sounds like dogs walking by, go back to sleep.  Wake up thinking owner’s home, realize he’s not, sniff around, chase something, eat some bit of a plant, go back to sleep.  Wake up thinking owner’s home, find out you’re right, go absolutely nuts running around in circles barking to the world your ecstasy, jump all over owner ruining his clothes, play tug of war, go lie down and take a nap.  Wake up when you hear owner pouring out your dinner, eat, beg for some of what owner’s eating, hopefully get some, go back to sleep.  Get up at the sound of your leash, run around in circles, make it really difficult for owner to put leash over your head, go for walk pulling like crazy, get home, sniff around to find what’s happened while you were gone, go to sleep.   Wake up when owner’s ready to go to bed, complain about whatever he does, go to sleep cuddled up.


Now if I’m counting right, I’m describing a dog going to sleep ten times a day.  Why?  Because we live hard!  We play hard, work hard, and love hard.  And so we exhaust ourselves a lot!  And if we have a day where we’re too busy to get a lot of naps, we sleep really hard that night.


I’m ranting on about this because the truth is, Star, you’re doing exactly the right thing!  Your body is telling you that it needs to get some sleep, especially before you go to karate class!  If you need them, there are ways to keep yourself awake longer, such as caffeinated drinks – but really, you’re way better off doing what you’re doing.


Until pretty recently, adult humans planned mid-day naps (you’ve probably heard the Spanish word “Siesta,” which usually refers to just those).  Now today, instead, people do all sorts of things to keep themselves awake during those mid-afternoon hours when their bodies want to withdraw and digest their lunches.  And instead of all that unnatural stuff, you’re actually paying attention to what’s called your Circadian Rhythm, which means your body’s natural cycle of waking and sleeping.


Most importantly, Star, you’re also at a time in your life when your body is growing and changing.  Most likely, in a few years, you’ll find that you don’t need that afternoon nap as much as you do now.  So I’d suggest that you just sleep as much as you need to, and do your homework later, after your karate class.


And if anyone gives you any grief about those naps, well don’t you learn in karate class about how to handle complaints like that?!






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