The IQ Answer: Elizabeth, Miranda

Waking Up is Hard to Do

"My 26-year-old daughter can probably win the gold medal in sleeping," says Elizabeth. "Miranda is a sleep-aholic."

"I've been struggling with waking up since elementary school," Miranda says. "I call it being in a coma. I sleep so deeply."

Elizabeth sometimes takes dramatic measures to wake up her daughter. "I take water and I splash it on her face. I've actually called a police officer. He came over here and pounded on her window until she got up," she says. "In the last three years, Miranda has lost five different jobs. She cannot wake up and get there on time."

Miranda often uses three alarms, and has talked to doctors about her condition. "My sleeping problem affects my self-esteem," she says.

Elizabeth thinks alcohol toxicity is at the root of Miranda's problem. "When Miranda was 15 years old, she chugged a load of alcohol. They were pumping her stomach on my living room floor. They had to put her on life support and a ventilator," she recalls. "I always wonder if because her body shut down, did it help create this situation?"

"Sleep is my enemy and no one understands what I'm going through. I wish I could wake up every morning rested and ready to go," Miranda says.

"How do you feel when you do wake up?" Dr. Phil asks Miranda.

She replies, "Overwhelmingly tired. I feel very, very tired."

"No matter how much sleep you get, you wake up and feel drowsy, groggy?" he probes. 

"Always the same," she replies.

Dr. Phil turns to Elizabeth. "You said at 15, she had some alcohol toxicity; alcohol poisoning. Was she this way before then?" he asks. 

Elizabeth replies, "She slept a lot when she was a child too. She was hard to get up."


Miranda reflects on the experience. "The interesting thing about that night is, I was awake, aware, drinking hard alcohol for the first time. But I was alive, I was moving. I was OK until I went to sleep, and that's when I went into a deeper and deeper sleep, and they called it a coma," she tells Dr. Phil. "But I can easily sleep that much on a regular night."

"Are you spoiled?" Dr. Phil asks Miranda.

She smiles. "I'm well taken care of, but not spoiled."

Dr. Phil takes her to task. "The whole world says, 'I know I'm tired, but I've got to get my feet moving. I've got to drag myself out of here and get up,' but you don't," he says. "And now, I'm trying to decide how much of that is a conscious choice on your part to just not hold yourself to that standard, and how much of it is that you just can't get your motor skills working."

"I think I just can't get my motor skills working. It's hard being judged that way," Miranda says. "I think about 10 percent of the time it's my fault."

"So, 90 percent of the time you're saying, 'I just can't do it. I cannot get myself up'?" Dr. Phil asks. 

"I'm not mentally telling myself that," she says.

While Miranda is sleeping in her hotel room, she gets a surprise wake-up call " Dr. Phil style!


Groggily, Miranda answers her phone. "Hello?"


"Hey Miranda, this is Dr. Phil. Good morning, Sunshine!" he says from his car phone. "Are you awake?"


"No. I'm not sunshine," she answers.


"Well, they tell me you're a sleepyhead and you have trouble waking up in the morning. So, I wanted to call and give you a wake-up call. Are you awake?" he asks cheerfully.




Not to be deterred, Dr. Phil says, "Now can I count on you, or do I have to call you back? I'm counting on you to stay awake."


"OK," Miranda says sleepily.


After hanging up with Miranda, Dr. Phil says, "I don't know whether she was awake or not. She was not thrilled to get the phone call, and she didn't exactly sound like Little Miss Merry Sunshine. So, if we can get her vertical in the next five minutes, maybe we'll get her there in time for the show."

Addressing Miranda, Dr. Phil says, "You said that 90 percent of the time, you don't have the motor skills. You look pretty functional there. You're doing this. Those are conscious motor skills that you're doing. We did have a semi-coherent conversation."


He turns to Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil advisory board, and author of The IQ Answer. "What do you think is going on here?" Dr. Phil asks. "If this is happening where she's sleeping 17 hours at times, clearly the brain's involved here."

"I think there are two things that we need to look at. One is that her brain may actually be going into a deeper frequency of sleep than the normal person. So, we need to raise that frequency so you don't go so deeply. There are also some techniques to raise that frequency when you wake up. So, that's kind of a mechanical approach as well," Dr. Lawlis explains. "But I also think there's an issue in terms of motivation because you like to sleep. You like sleeping."


Someone Miranda's age should get between seven and eight hours of sleep. "At 17 hours " at 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 hours " you really are pulling yourself down," Dr. Phil warns. "You're going to wake up more tired after too much sleep than you will when you wake up with the right amount of sleep, because your brain does kind of go on a fugue state, and you're very lethargic."

Turning to Elizabeth, he says, "Do you think she's motivated to do this?"

"I hope so. I really, truly do. It's driving me crazy," she replies. "It's devastating to watch your daughter who's 25 " almost 26 years old "still be in bed by the time you get home [from work]."

"Now you've lost five jobs," Dr. Phil points out to Miranda.

"Three," she corrects. "I might have missed a couple unimportant ones, but three job losses really hurt my feelings."

"You might've slept through getting fired twice," Dr. Phil jokes. "Did you graduate high school?"

"No, I got a GED."

"Why did you not graduate high school?" Dr. Phil asks. 

"Because of attendance," Miranda replies. 

"And you went to college, and you showed up late to class, but yet you still made good grades. You got on the Dean's List."

"Yeah, I did great," she replies proudly.

Dr. Phil turns to Dr. Lawlis. "What do you think needs to be ruled out here?" he asks. 

"I think we need to rule out this frequency problem, because that can genetically be an issue," Dr. Lawlis responds.

Dr. Phil explains that Miranda needs to wake up her brain. "Dr. Lawlis talks in The IQ Answer not only about the things that will help us overcome this sleep problem, but also having our brains moving as fast as possible in the morning," he says. "You deal with oxygenation in the brain. You deal with nutrition. He deals with all sorts of things that can help you. There are rhythmic sounds that will turn your brain on."


Dr. Phil suggests that Miranda get her brain mapped. "We're going to find out where you are frequency-wise, and then we're going to have to start driving that frequency to wake you up. This can be a problem resolved, literally, in a matter of a few days," he assures her.

"This is the most hopeful thing that I have ever heard," Miranda replies.