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It's sleep deprivation _ I'm not just lazy!

I need sleep! Why is it that when I decide to sleep in, my parents decide I'm just lazy? Don't they get it? I'm worn out and tired to the point of exhaustion. I am not depressed or trying to avoid things. I am just sleepy.

I have read the articles about teenagers and our need for extra sleep because we are growing and we are having all those hormone changes. Do parents read those articles or do they only read the ones that support what they want to believe? I don't want to explain myself or have to make up lies and excuses for why I'm still in bed at lunchtime on Saturdays. Just leave me alone. I'm not bothering anyone, so why does everyone in the house feel the need to bother me?

Why do my parents tell me to go to bed early if I am so tired? I'm not sleepy early. I'm a teenager. I like to stay up late at night and sleep late into the daytime. Why does anyone care when I sleep? Why can't they just be happy that I'm getting my rest? Even when I try to fall asleep early in the evenings, I'm not successful. I lay awake for hours in the nighttime just wishing my eyes would close and I could snooze. Usually that doesn't happen unless I am sick.

Then there are afternoons when I come home from school and I need a nap right then. No way that can happen because I should not be tired at that time of the day, you say. Well, excuse me. I am tired after school and I need sleep. So, I don't want to hear, "If you would go to bed at night at a decent hour, you wouldn't be so sleepy in the afternoon!" Or how about this one, "I think you must have your nights and days confused!" No, I don't. I am not confused. I am just on a different sleep schedule than you are. I don't think either of us is right or wrong, it just makes us different. I can accept that. Why can't you?

The comment that angers me the most is, "You are just a lazy, unmotivated, good for nothing kid!" I actually resent this statement so much I want to scream. Why is it that just because I sleep at different times than my parents they think they have the right to pass judgment on my character and my person? In our world, we talk on the phone half the night, study late, and on the weekends we stay out late. I know most of the world works in the daytime and sleeps at night, but in my world we may sleep in half the day on the weekends and holidays. That is just the way it is! This is not a character flaw.

When I go to college, I plan on scheduling all my classes in the afternoons and evenings so I can continue sleeping in as long as possible. No one will be there to tell me I can't do that or I'm a lazy bum. So I will take advantage of this opportunity as long as I can. Since I will be with other people just like me, maybe they will leave me alone and we will all get the sleep we need. What difference does it make as long as we get sleep?

Please understand, I'm not lazy! I'm just sleepy!

IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Seminole who has been in counseling practice since 1979. She writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza). You may write her c/o: IT!, X-Press, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridiansptimes.com.

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