The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep
On the day that he was born Max slept for most of the time. And in the first weeks of his life he slept like other babies. But when he began to look around him, he didn't sleep so much. He slept for a few hours at night and a little in the daytime. Then he stopped sleeping during the day. He was awake for twenty hours. His eyes were always open!
His mother, Samantha Price, was very surprised. She said that the world was a very interesting place and perhaps Max wanted to see everything. She thought this was because he was intelligent.
The doctors and pediatricians were also very surprised; but they said that they didn't know why Max slept so little. Then a child psychologist studied Max's case. He said that it wasn't a very strange case.
His studies showed that a lot of modern babies were sleeping less. He wasn't sure why, but he had some ideas about it.
'Two hundred years ago people went to bed earlier than today,' he told Samantha. 'Generally, life was slower in the past and people slept longer. They worked a lot and they didn't have much money, so they often stayed at home after work and went to bed when it got dark. You see, there was no television and there weren't any electric lights. Electric light is different from candlelight; it is brighter and it keeps you awake. Babies are influenced in mysterious ways by the world. And if the world is fast, noisy, and bright, and if people often go to bed very late, babies will feel this and they won't sleep so much.'
'Are you sure, Doctor?' Samantha said. 'I think that Max doesn't sleep because he finds the world so interesting. He's very intelligent.'
'Yes, that's possible, Mrs Price. But it's true that our society is becoming more nocturnal.'
The psychologist's words surprised Samantha. She couldn't believe him. But when she told her husband Derek, he said, 'Yes, it seems crazy but our world is crazy! The psychologist may be right. But we'll see. Perhaps it will pass and Max will sleep like other babies.'
When Max was five, the doctors said he was a hyperactive child. Every night Samantha tried to put him to bed at eight-thirty but he wasn't sleepy. Samantha became angry; Derek was angry too. They shouted at Max and finally he went to bed at about half past nine. But he cried and cried, and he never fell asleep before eleven o'clock. Then he woke up between four and five in the morning and he wanted to play. Samantha and Derek were always tired and nervous.