My Struggle With Sleep
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My Struggle With Sleep

Falling asleep in class, skipping things, dropping clubs... It was about time.

My Struggle With Sleep
Ricardo Cortés

Hold on. Before you turn away because someone else is going to try and tell you to sleep, hear me out.

Last year I was a sophomore in college with a job, a leadership position, a sport, a club and 8am’s every day except Friday. I was packed, but taking a rather light semester (13 credits) and yet still had a lot to do. So I got up every morning, went to class, tried to get work done in-between classes, and worked and was both productive and unproductive until 2am. I had a very strict bedtime of 2am, no sooner no later. I was trying to be consistent.

I first noticed that there was a problem when I was falling asleep in my Fluid Mechanics class basically every morning. It became a routine: attempt to get out of bed, throw on whatever clothes I can in 2 minutes, get to the building, get a coffee and a bagel, sit in class, sleep once I ran out of said coffee and bagel, take awful notes, try to finish my day productively.

My other 8am was yoga, and was one of the few things to bring me joy, but skipping it was easy (as it was an audit) and it happened very often.

Every day was long and yet not long enough. I skipped wellness classes, I skipped plans, I stopped going to rugby practices, I stopped swimming, all to try and make up for the time I knew I didn’t have. I saw my grades slink despite really feeling like I knew the material. I never finished any shows, books or any kind of personal project.

One morning, I crawled out of my lofted bed to turn off my alarm (strategically placed across the room because I had a habit for ignoring my phone) and after it was off I looked down at a lovely pile of clothes in front of my dresser and went to sleep. I missed yoga that morning.

I knew there was a problem but I had no way to solve it. Getting up later wasn’t an option, going to bed earlier wasn’t an option unless I decided to leave my work unfinished which wasn’t an option, and dropping a class wasn’t an option either because I was already only taking 13 credits.

It got to the point where my friends would start playing Samuel L. Jackson’s reading of “Go the F*** to Sleep” to me when I was in any room but my own after around 10:30pm to try and help me (I now have a hard copy of said book sitting on my desk, a gift from a friend who had my best interests at heart). I was unhappy, exhausted, edgy and honesty just felt awful and overwhelmed almost every day. It was like I didn't have time for all the things that could have made it all better.

Yet I wanted to feel like superman. I wanted to stay up, get stuff done, do amazing things, be happy, have friends, I wanted it all. I wanted to feel like I could swim even when I was drowning and that I didn’t need any saving.

Fast forward to last summer-fall when I was on co-op. I commuted 1.5 hours each way to work, often operating on my mother’s schedule (she worked close to my co-op). This meant that I was leaving the house at 6:30 every morning, and not returning until 8pm at night. I was exhausted every single night. By Fall semester my friends were at school again, or at least not around, and so I spent my nights with my cat. Sleeping. I was asleep every night at 9:30pm, I was fading my 9pm, and if I had to stay up later I would take a nap in the car or at work. I was a machine at work, getting more done in a day than I even expected of myself, with an energy I hadn’t had since sometime in high school.

After a solid three months of this, I went and traveled with my brother and with a large group, and I had several days of late mornings and late nights (try 5am). Yet when I got home, I was again back in bed by 9:30.

Fast-forward again to now, and I am astounded by the difference a small habit change can make. I go to bed at 10, I wake up at 5:30 (because work and consistency). I am taking 23 credits, in a leadership position, working, living off campus, playing rugby again, and I am more productive and less stressed than I have been in a long time. My friendships are healthy, my food is good, and I no longer need coffee to make it through a lecture (well, most of the time).

This doesn’t mean I don’t have late nights anymore, or that I no longer have fun. The difference is that my late nights are special, like a big slice of chocolate cake. I may feel tired the next morning, but I work off the sludge of little sleep quickly, and get back on track. It is easy when it isn’t a habit.

I can feel how much better I am than last year. It’s a huge difference. I thought I could do it all, but now I know that the only way to do it all is to sleep.

For those of you who stuck with me this far, thank you. This is not a great story to tell. I hope though that by sharing what went on, and how so much changed JUST by getting some sleep, I can convince some of you to give it a go to. I can’t tell you enough how much better you will feel.

If you need some help getting started, feel free to email me or tweet me or whatever, I will answer. You can do it all, you might just need some sleep.

In case you need some encouragement

In case you need some tips 1 - 2

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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