Sleep deprivation. If anyone was qualified to write about this phenomena called the lack of sleep, it would be me. To count, I have yet to have one good 10+ hours of sleep night in one month, crawling into bed between the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. to wake up again at 9 or 10 a.m. I will be the first to tell you this schedule is not ideal, but if I had a choice to change it, I wouldn’t. So why give up a perfectly good night of sleep?
I’ve grown up a night owl, at the age of five believing that the night was just more time to read a book. With a flashlight in hand and a towel protecting the light from seeping out from under my door, I would stay up until my body could not, falling asleep and frantically looking for my spot in the book the next morning. This sacrifice of sleep for reading didn’t stop, and while most kids put down the books and picked up game controllers, I kept to my room, reading my way through series of books, not stopping until I was finished.
Now, I must confess, once high school hit, my eagerness to read was trumped by a necessity to do homework, but my night owl tendencies persisted through all of it. At some points, 11 would be considered going to bed early, and 2 a.m. the norm. To say that this habit has gotten worse would be an understatement, my eating habits, nap cycles and overall emotional health could tell you that. But the experience would tell a different story.
One of the many stories that my sleep-deprived self could tell involves West Virginia and McDonald's. One night I found myself on the hallway floor studying for an upcoming test, wishing there was something to do at 12:00 on a Wednesday morning. And then, as if to answer my hopes, my friend calls me to ask if I want to do something crazy like drive to West Virginia.
I was stunned. West Virginia?!?! How far away is that? What will we do? Do we have a car? Do I need money? The questions went on forever, but my response was immediate: “YES OF COURSE I DO”! This was definitely not the most thought-out plan, my phone at one percent, my friend’s phone dead and only a general location of the car: the duck pond lot.
With me in my shorts and a dead phone, we walked in the freezing cold to find a car that could be anywhere from 2 feet away and 2000. By 1:00 a.m., we were in the car, driving to West Virginia and talking about who we were as people when I asked: “Wait where are we actually going through,” to which I got silence. At this point, my mind should have panicked, but the time told me that it wasn’t worth it, so we decided on Charleston. By 4:00 we were in Charleston eating McDonald's and by 7:00 we were back at Virginia Tech.
Yes, I could have gotten a good 8 hours of sleep, woken up for my 9 o’clock class, or gotten a good breakfast. I could have completed the Chem homework, charged my phone, taken a shower, or a number of other things. But how many times will I be offered a trip to West Virginia? How many times will I be able to tell my friends and family I took that leap?
Life is about chances, and while school is important, the experiences that you have will last longer than a WebAssign on atomic structures and bonds. And while the sheets of the bed may be calling your name, answer the call and go on an adventure. I promise you won’t regret it. I know I don’t. Right, Shannon?