As the well-known Asher Roth anthem "I Love College" goes, "Pass out at 3:00, wake up at 10:00 / Go out to eat and then do it again"- the lifestyle of putting sleep at the bottom of one's priorities in college is all too familiar. Though many aren't spending their time partying like those in the song, sleep is something rarely had on college campuses because of habits that start as early as middle school. My 8th-grade cousin described her encounter with anti-sleep culture to me when she told me that it's common for her and her friends to stay up until midnight doing homework while chatting over various social media platforms.
In high school, I wouldn't have batted an eye at someone telling me they went to bed at 4:00 AM. With difficult classes and a million extracurriculars, it seemed impossible to establish a healthy, normal bedtime. I myself made it a habit of going to bed right after I came home from Cross Country practice only to wake up at 2:00 AM to do all of my homework then go straight to school. For me, 3 to 5 hours of sleep was the norm. Looking back, as a college student who now gets 8 hours or more of sleep a night, I realize how unhealthy that practice was. My hair started to fall out in the shower, I could barely make it through a class without falling asleep, and I now feel as if the anxiety and extreme sadness I endured spring semester of my senior year (to be discussed in another article) was only exacerbated by my lack of sleep.
But why? Why did I endure all of the negative side effects of sleep deprivation when I could have just gone to bed earlier? The easy answer is procrastination. But the harder answer comes with asking why once more: Why did I procrastinate? Why, still, does everyone I know in college wait at least until 12:00 to start their homework and refuse to retire to their bed anytime earlier than 4:00 AM.
I can only speak my truth, but I think there's a certain pride in being the model example of the depressed, sleep-deprived, high achieving student. This early competitiveness in sleep deprivation seems to mimic the revelations of the workplace and super-adults who claim to rule the world on minimal sleep- Marissa Mayer, former CEO and president of Yahoo!, clocks out her sleeping time at 4 hours, Indra Nooyi (chief executive of PepsiCo) sleeps for the same amount, and President Trump boasts of getting only 3-4 hours a night.
In the way prominent business leaders equate their exhaustion to a measure of their hard work, it seems as if we, the aspiring professionals, have come to do so as well.
This habit is all at the expense of our health, mental well-being, and ability to be successful in the workplace. Professor Russell Foster at the University of Oxford says that we have become too arrogant in our ignorance of sleep, and that soon our rebellion against the clock will come back to bite us whether it be by falling asleep at the wheel, during an important meeting, or even just losing track of mind and missing a critical moment at work- is this really worth the artificial feeling of accomplishment we get from the dark bags under our eyes?
Though it's easy to measure success with sleep deprivation, I'm challenging myself and those around me to accomplish what seems to me to be an even more difficult task: reorganizing my schedule to get enough sleep. Sure, the exhaustion of long hours staring at the blue light of my computer feel gratifying, but hitting the pillow after a jam-packed day will feel even better.