“Mom, just a few minutes more. Pleeeeeease…!” I tilt my head to the side, mumbling something about the bed being boring, and put on my very best puppy-eyes impression. Mom, who’s heard it all before, sighs and tell me I’m too young to stay up late and asks me to go pick out a bedtime story instead. In order to prove my disappointment, I stomp loudly all the way up the stairs to my room.

Seven-year-old me love bedtime stories. So much that I always make sure I pick the longest one. The one that will delay bedtime the most. My plan is to hold mom or dad hostage throughout the full length of the story. I always feel like all the fun is bound to start as soon as I go to bed. All the fun I will be missing out on. Like my parents have a million secrets and I’m left out, sleeping.

My plan backfires, every night. The longest story is also the most boring one. I try my hardest to stay awake. Sometimes I even forcefully hold my eyes open with my fingertips. But we never finish the story. Sleep always wins and I fall asleep, missing out on the rest of the evening.

This unwillingness to sleep and the feeling of missing out when the grown-ups stay up past my bedtime is where my sleep journey begins. In my mind, no day was ever long enough. Bedtime always came too soon. And for some reason, it had a nasty habit of sneaking up at the worst possible time of the day. Just as I had a different activity in mind. An activity my parents always seemed incapable of seeing for the groundbreaking importance it held to me. In the end, bedtime always won. My parents always won, no discussion deemed necessary. 

Looking back it dawns on me that no one ever explained why I needed sleep. The only information I ever got was that I was too young to stay up. Today, I’m all grown up. As the communicator of one of the world’s most successful sleep apps, I work with sleep every day. Me being a kid is long gone, that’s for sure. So what do I really know about kids and sleep anyway? I guess I’ll find out, very soon. 

When sleep was a ghost