Art by Jacklyn Maza
There’s a long-standing joke that as a student, we have three options: sleep, good grades and a social life. Students may choose only two. Given that grades and a social life usually take priority, most of us have given up on the hope of a good night’s rest. It is a dream and a whisper of days gone by, and sleep deprivation has become a trademark of college life.
With midterms and Waves Weekend passing, many Pepperdine students are feeling even more haggard than usual. Midterms in the past few weeks means that students have held late night study groups, cram sessions and pulled more than a few all-nighters to finish papers.
Something about college seems to have an ability to wreck a person’s sleep schedule, to the point that when a student is asked how he or she is doing, the only answer that is perhaps more typical than “good” is “tired.” Early bedtimes are traded for midday naps and students stay up even later because of it.
Few students can say that they went to bed early before coming to college, and even during school breaks most of us still choose to stay up late. But when sleeping in is taken away, a full course load is added, and jobs, internships, athletics and extracurricular activities are stacked on top, exhaustion sets in.
This isn’t to say that all those times we stay up too late are all for the wrong reasons. Undoubtedly some of them are foolish, and we regret them the next day. But not every late night is part of some proud insistence that “sleep is for the weak,” and some moments are more than worth it. Students have told stories of 1 a.m. adventures in the search of great pancakes, night hikes to see the stars and staying up with a friend who was going through a tough time until they watched the sunrise together.
For whatever reason we choose to stay up late, sleep deprivation is not a fun experience. Constant tiredness has been shown to affect grades, memory, mental and physical health and mood. However, for many of us a full eight hours of sleep is simply unrealistic considering the length of our to-do lists.
No matter what your reason for staying up late, everyone can find a balance that works for that person as an individual. For some students, this might mean better time management or cutting down on the procrastinating. For some this might mean being OK with less sleep at night and instead taking naps during the day. For others it might mean learning to prioritize, even if that means only committing to a few things rather than dabbling in everything. For all of us, though, it means more than simply sleeping in once in a while. We are challenged with learning to prioritize rest and balance that with the other things for which we strive.
As published in the Oct. 24, 2013 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.
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