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How Sleepy Are You?
Between team practices, class, homework, spending time with friends and getting to school on time, sleep deprivation is sometimes hard to spot. With the amount of pressure and stress you are under, it may seem natural to be tired all the time. How could someone juggle so much activity without feeling a little exhausted?! There's just so much to do!
But the reality is that sleep deprivation is more of a hindrance to enjoying all those things you love to do, and sleep deprivation can reach the critical point of being a danger to yourself and others when you are involved in driving a car for instance. One state actually made it illegal to drive while sleep deprived.
If you think you might be sleep deprived, here are some things to look for to help you identify your need for more and better sleep:
  • Yawning
  • Falling asleep in class
  • Having trouble getting out of bed in the morning
  • Taking more than 20 minutes to fall asleep at night
  • Frequent headaches
  • Bags under your eyes
  • Feeling irritable or moody
  • Clumsiness
  • Falling asleep while driving
  • Needing to drink a lot of caffeine
  • Having difficulty focusing
  • Having wandering or disconnected thoughts
Memory games are another way to test your awareness. If you are sleepy, you won't be able to remember as much as you would if you were well rested, and your response times won't be as sharp and quick.
On-line memory games and puzzles are great'”and enjoyable'”ways to see how your memory and reaction time stack up, helping you to know if you are sleep deprived. The idea is to see how well you compare to others playing the same game and to learn how speedily you react during the time allowed for the game. By playing the game several times, after a good night's sleep and after a night of little sleep, you will be able to see how sleep loss impairs your performance'”and that sleep deprivation is in play.
There are many, many Web sites that offer a variety of memory games, but here are some favorites:
At this free game Web site, you'll find a great game to test memory and reaction time. Tetris, a computer puzzle game that has been around for several decades, asks players to move four-block shapes that are falling into a well into a horizontal row of blocks without any gaps. Players must rotate the shapes and complete as many horizontal lines as possible before they reach the roof. You can set the speed for how quickly you want the shapes to fall and use different strategies for getting the shapes in line as quickly as possible.
The same site also offers a game called Anagrammatics. In this game you click on letters to form words at least four letters long. The idea is to find the longest possible words within the specified time limit.
The site also offers the popular math game called Soduko. In this game you try to fill a puzzle grid so that every row, column, and 3-by-3 box contains the numbers 1 through 9.
This site provides two memory tests (click on Memory Games), one for verbal memory and one for visual memory. The verbal quiz, which takes between 10 and 15 minutes, tests word memory, and the visual quiz, which takes about the same amount of time, tests picture memory. Each test has three parts, and at the end you're told what your score means and how you compare to other people who have taken the test.

Playing the ages-old game Concentration is another great way to test memory and performance. This Web site provides a 24-picture Concentration grid and times your play to see how quickly you can come up with the 12 matches.
This online version of the arcade game Whack-a-Mole, in which moles poke their heads up quickly and you have to whack them before they duck back underground, requires continuous attention and speedy visual reaction time. It's a great way for your teen to assess sleepiness and possible microsleeps'”and have fun at the same time.

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