The Curious Incident of the Teen in the Night-Time

The late-night experiences of a stressed and anxious high-schooler in the style of Mark Haddon’s novel.


Art by Lucas Marangoni

10:23 PM

My name is Maria Sofia Pricolo. I know off the top of my head every homework task I have due the next day and each night I count the number of hours I will sleep. After a long day of classes and after school activities I usually end up collapsing on my bed. The only way that I manage to stay awake after 6:00 pm is by being on my phone. I try my best not to have a messed-up sleep schedule but when I am awake, I’m never sure if I am just exhausted, or if the reason I’m bursting with energy is that my brain is so overworked. 


10:48 PM

My mom barges into my room demanding, ‘Why haven’t you gone to sleep yet?”

And I said, “Because I haven’t finished all of my homework yet.”

And she said, “Then what have you been doing after school this whole time?” 

And I said, “I had Treble Choir rehearsal, theatre rehearsal, and my math tutor came by.”

Then we said nothing for a little while until she said, 

“Well, then, hurry up and go to sleep. The doctor just told you yesterday that you need to go to bed earlier. It’s bad for your teenage brain to be getting such little sleep.”

And I said, “Yes, mom I know.”

12:06 AM

After putting away my computer and finally setting aside the endless piles of homework, I start getting ready to tuck in for the night. At this point I am so tired from the long day I had, I cannot wait to sleep.

These are some of the reasons why I love going to bed:

  1. I love getting into some comfy pajamas after a nice, hot shower.
  2. I feel really fresh after thoroughly washing my face and brushing my teeth.
  3. I love curling up under a thick, soft blanket.
  4. I feel quite satisfied when I have an outfit laid out and my bag is fully packed for the next day.
  5. After being on my feet all day, it’s nice to have a moment to lie down and relax.

But by the time I have managed to do all these things so much time has passed. So should I stop doing them just so that I can get into bed earlier? But then that means that I am not taking care of myself and that I am not even doing anything out of pure enjoyment anymore. Whatever. I should stop overthinking and just get into bed.

12:57 AM

I decide to do my self-care routine and finally manage to get into bed. My thoughts are still flying around at a million miles an hour as I try to calculate in my head how many hours of sleep I have, how much time I have between classes to rush the homework I didn’t finish, and until what time I have to stay after school, along with the other nine hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred ninety-seven thoughts I have. I start thinking about who will make an appearance at school tomorrow: Zombie Sofia or Energizer Bunny Sofia. Will I be completely exhausted from how little sleep I got, or will I be overly energetic, but still feel like I didn’t sleep a wink? If you drew up a tree diagram to determine the probability it would probably look something like this:

But the end results all turn out basically the same: I’m either crying or just give up. Maybe both.

If you sketched a hypothetical graph of how a normal school day feels like, with this sleep schedule, it would look like this:


Stepporido . “Line Chart Ascending. Animated Line Graph.” Shutterstock,

And you can see the extreme dips that represent my exhaustion levels, my mood swings, my productivity, my ability to construct coherent sentences: the usual things a sleepy teen struggles with. But this is totally normal, right? I don’t know a single high-schooler who doesn’t feel like this, at least sometimes. It’s totally normal. 

2:27 AM

I have been tossing and turning all night from all those thoughts, and to calm myself down, I reach for my phone (which has been going off with hundreds of notifications). I check the trending pages to try and take my mind off of all the things I have been worrying about. Then I end up down an internet rabbit hole, and my strained eyeballs can’t seem to tear themselves away from the screen. And I am so tired that I do not have the energy to put my phone back into charge and on my desk so I just keep scrolling through the infinite trending pages and feeds seeing all the:

Game of Thrones Series Recap 

How to cut your own hair

The Amazon rainforest is on fire! 

Satisfying crunchy ASMR slime 

Self-care life hacks to sleep well 

Try this: detox homemade weight loss juice

Now I feel even more overwhelmed, yet relaxed–since it’s easier to think about something as stupid as crunchy slime than it is to think about my next IB assessment–I just keep going until I just stop thinking and then I am eventua…zzzzzz.

8:07 AM 

I eventually get to school after spending the first hour of my day with my face falling into my bowl of cereal and then being completely asleep on the bus going to school. Once I reach my locker to drop off the endless amount of textbooks and notebooks I had taken home the day before, I just stare into my locker, trying to stop focusing on the fact that my head feels like a bowling ball. Then one of my teachers walks by and says, “Hi Sofia, how are you?”

And I immediately chirp up and say, “Hello!!!!! I am doing great this morning, how are you!?” as a quivering smile is plastered onto my face. At this point, it’s time to get to class and start my daily routine all over again.