Strange. I used to be a morning person. I used to get up at seven before sunrise because I couldn't fall back asleep. I used to yell at my friends for staying up past 12 a.m when we would have sleepovers together.
It's all pretty funny to me now that I'm writing this at 2:27 a.m.
I don't know exactly when I transitioned from a normal human being into a nocturnal mole rat, but I know it happened sometime around eighth grade. On one fateful day, my literature teacher assigned us a project that would change my sleep schedule forever. I must have procrastinated too hard on it because I ended up having to stay up late so I could finish the project the night before it was due.
My language arts teacher was a sweet lady with a slight, Southern accent, but you would've thought she was a super villain, judging by how she graded everyone's essays. In retrospect, she was what inspired me to work hard and try my best at school. However, she was also the one partially responsible for making me a perfectionist when it came to my work. While this was usually a good thing, it became an obstacle when there was an entire project that had to be finished before class the next day.
I envied those who could be happy with what they had and say, "Screw it, it's good enough." It became a habit of mine to make sure my work was perfect, even down to unnecessary details, all to the detriment of my sleep. And that was the start of the sleep deprivation cycle.
The first time I stayed up late working on that project, I glanced at my clock which read 1:30 a.m. I remember thinking, "Wow, that's really late."
1:30 a.m. is relatively early for me now.
It got worse when I got to high school and started taking AP Government. My workload started getting higher and higher along with my fear of getting a bad grade. This meant staying up even later to study for tests and quizzes. I would put effort into things the teacher barely even checked and study for hours until I couldn't remember anything. I've yet to pull an all-nighter, but I'm pretty dang close. I stayed up until 6 a.m. studying for finals last semester.
However, after countless nights of staying awake, I've made an observation: it's strangely peaceful to be awake when everyone else is asleep. It feels like I’m the only person in the world at that moment. And while some people are scared of solitude, I like it sometimes. When we're surrounded by others, life passes by so fast. It's nice to sit down with myself once in a while.
Whether it's deep reflecting or drowning in a rabbit hole of YouTube videos, there's a certain tranquility that comes with being alone. The business of everyday life can make time seem fast or slow. But being alone on a Monday morning at 3 a.m. can make time seem still.
The second thing I've noticed is that yesterday and tomorrow are so far away. The events that happened a few hours ago seems like an eternity away. The events that will take place in a few hours seem like they'll never happen. This goes with the fact that time seems to stop in the early morning.
I know that I'm going to feel like crap during the school day when I function on three hours of sleep. I know I'm going to have to take countless tests and turn in countless projects. But in my strange time bubble, it just doesn't seem to resonate with me. It feels too distant to worry about. I can laugh at how screwed I am without feeling screwed. It's amazing.
Now, I think it's physically impossible for me to sleep early. Even if I don't have anything to do that night, I'll still stay awake for the sake of being awake. I'll come home every day after school, crash on my bed and nap for around two or three hours because I get so tired during the school day. So, do I regret doing this? Yes and no. I would never have experienced the calm that comes with staying awake if I hadn’t tried. However, I’m trying to change the factors that lead me to do this. Though it’s so hard to find the motivation to change, I’ve been trying to stop myself from procrastinating so much.
I’m OK with my grades right now, but it would be a shame to not try for something better. I always wonder how I would do if I didn’t leave everything to the last minute. I’m trying to stop being so satisfied with the status quo and see where change takes me. Hopefully, the next time I stay up until three, it’ll be because I want to and not because I’m cramming for my next test.
I’m also trying to work on efficiency. Some things are not worth spending hours worrying over. I want to study the right things instead of studying everything. Hopefully, I can figure out how to prioritize, so I can have more time to do what I want to do. Managing my time has always been a struggle for me. I always spend no time on something or invest all my time in it. I’m trying to change so I can be a more consistent person.
While I don’t regret all the nights I spent staying awake, I know I will regret not trying harder to improve my study habits and health in the future. Sleep deprivation is cool and all, but it’s pretty tiring when it becomes part of a daily routine. However, what’s funny is that it took countless nights of reflecting at 3 a.m. to realize this. Strange.