Community//

How My Gap Year After High School Turned Me into a Sleep Activist

A story of a student with a mystery illness to running an international NGO

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During my last year of high school, I could not stay awake. I was always sleepy in class – even after 9 to 12 hours of sleep. Yes, twelve! I had no time for friends, family, homework, or fun. My sleep problems were single-handedly destroying my life. So I decided to take a medical gap after graduating.
I thought, okay, maybe now’s the time to get my life back together. Only to find out that even getting an 8 to 5 job wasn’t enough to help me stay awake. At work, my teammates labeled me the “sleepy girl.” At that point, I needed to get back the control I lost over my time. I started doing my own research and talking to colleagues and friends about my sleep obstacles. Our conversations made me realize I wasn’t the only one. The more I dug deep into research, the more shocking the results were. Sleep resources, education, and necessities are not available to everyone. In fact, studies prove that there is a direct correlation between socioeconomic status and sleep deprivation.
As I was, I’m sure you are in awe by these facts. It had never crossed my mind that sleeping was a luxury. As an eighteen-year-old, I decided it was time to fight for sleep equity not only in vulnerable communities but also in the corporate world and for the average citizens. There is currently a huge gap we need to fill. If you are one of the people struggling with sleep, advocate for your health to be taken seriously. If you are a new parent, you should have the right not to go back to work due to financial obligations. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, help them fix their schedule. If you’re a person used to taking naps during the day, try talking to your HR representative about a flexible work schedule.
I was there; I was you. If there is one advice I wish someone gave while about my sleep is to take it seriously. It is not just resting. Sleeping plays a massive role in our day to day lives, and it is time for us to all start dreaming of a world where sleep deprivation isn’t unintentionally enforced. I went from a desperate student trying to find answers to a passionate sleep advocate in less than six months.
My advocacy transitioned into social entrepreneurship. Founding End No Sleep, Inc., a (501)(c)(3) NGO whose main mission is to educate on sleep hygiene, raise awareness about the current silent sleep epidemic, and provide vulnerable communities with the sleeping necessities they need. I am certain you can join me in paving a path to put an end to sleep deprivation. Not only for those of us can’t afford to get a good night’s sleep but also for those who think it’s unnecessary.

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