It was in New York’s Penn Station, as I was waiting for my Amtrak train at three in the morning, that I had a revelation: sleep is not for the weak, it is for the strong.
I sat waiting for my train in a state of semi-consciousness. It was the end of Thanksgiving break and it was time to return to my beloved college town/swamp of Williamsburg, Virginia. I was sleep-deprived and stressed, having gone through a rough day.
I had missed my Greyhound bus set to depart at 7:20 in the morning (I am not an early riser) and spent my day cramming my English paper on The Canterbury Tales. To put it simply, I was extremely worn out. I decided that I was too exhausted to do anything on the ride home but sleep for the entire journey down South. It was then, to my surprise, that I found another William & Mary student waiting for the same train. We greeted each other and chatted.
I marveled at the fact that he was going to stay up for the entire trip to study for his midterms. Just to put things into perspective, this train was running from 3:00 AM to 11:00 AM. I couldn't believe it and told him about my plans for an extended naptime. At one point or another, he said jokingly, "sleep is for the weak." At that moment, my semi-lucid, stressed-out brain reconsidered the pride people take in going without it.
As a high school student, I was one of many who considered a lack of sleep as something to boast about, a mark of hard work and determination. Why would it ever be considered a bad thing to stay up doing work? Is it bad to have determination, to have a good work ethic? That was my reasoning at the time and I'm sure that many people continue to use it to justify their all-nighters.
Now, being a college student with a full course load, I recognize the true blessing of a good night's sleep. I've found college life to be much freer than high school life in general, albeit much busier.
Sometimes I feel like a circus performer on a unicycle, juggling competing priorities of classes, extracurricular activities, and my social life. It certainly isn't easy and I've gone many nights without proper sleep, only to be too tired in the morning to properly comprehend my German class.
My "power naps" turn into three-hour blackouts that make me late for club meetings. Swing dancing, ballroom dancing, and Quizbowl (my extracurriculars) become harder and less enjoyable. Life is made more difficult.
I have to admit, I do need to plan out my time better. I often stay up late into the night doing work, but I no longer take pride in it. Case in point: this very article, written at 11:00 at night for the purpose of meeting my midnight deadline.
Do yourselves a favor, dear readers: please get enough sleep when you can, and don't romanticize depriving yourself of rest that will only brighten and energize your day. I know from personal experience it isn't easy to get sleep, but it's unhealthy and detrimental in the long run to reject what will make you strong. I wish you all a good night (or day, depending on your time of reading,) and sweet dreams.