College is antithetical to sleep  

Despite sleep being necessary for everyone, it feels like at college it is impossible to get any. Between classes, extracurriculars, relationships, and hobbies, most college students feel exhausted nearly every day. Illustration by Steven Coleman/The Daily Campus.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like I haven’t slept since January. It’s been one straight shot since the semester started; the most I’ve done is blinked. Alright, maybe this is an exaggeration. In theory, every night since the first day of classes I’ve laid down and rested, with my eyes closed. Perhaps I’ve drifted in and out of consciousness during these times. Really, who’s to say? It certainly doesn’t feel like I have, I’ll tell ya that. But this level of exhaustion and feeling unrested isn’t a unique experience. College is exhausting, and burnout runs rampant. 

At this point, it’s an age-old tale we all know a little too well. You want to do as many things as possible — yes, it really starts off that mundane and innocent. First, you have to take all the classes you need to graduate. And with that, you need to find time to do the coursework and homework that each course assigns, outside of class hours of course. On top of classes, you need to join some extracurricular activities that will look good on your resume. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a little amusement to liven up your days, maybe you’ll choose to explore a new interest or hobby by adding a “fun” extracurricular to your schedule as well. On the other hand, if you ever want to have fun in an entirely non-academic or otherwise unstructured environment, you’ll have to leave time in your day to see your friends. Even further, you need to make sure you have time to eat three meals a day, shower regularly and just generally take care of yourself — you are on your own for the first time, after all. And speaking of such, make sure you pencil in a phone call to your family whenever you have a few free minutes (as rare of an occasion as that might be).  

So, somehow, all of these activities need to fit into a singular day. Still, even if we’re being generous and we know that some extracurriculars only meet once a week, this is still a pretty tight schedule that right off the bat doesn’t leave much time for sleep. 

Moreover, the importance placed on all of these activities is extremely high. Thus, when it comes to not being able to fit everything into exactly 24 hours, sleep is often the first thing to get sacrificed. Goodbye well-rested adolescent life, hello worn-out young adult life in academia.  

Then of course, you might reach a point where you end up with no choice but staying up late to make sure all of your homework gets done. Such a late bedtime, forced only by the lack of hours in a day compared to the number of expectations on each individual, makes it incredibly difficult to wake up in time the next day for early classes. But that’s the cycle right there: You stay up late to do work, sleep in and miss a class or two and have to stay up late yet again to catch up on the work you missed. Rinse and repeat at least five days a week, every week, and we’re looking at a pretty bleak picture. Cue the common trope that college students love sleeping in because they’re “lazy.” Would I consider myself a morning person? Definitely not. Would I use that as a reason to also call myself lazy? Still, probably not. Clearly there’s a few confounding variables here (hint: overscheduling and burnout) that popular culture would lead you to believe don’t even exist in this equation in the first place. 

Now, as someone currently dealing with these issues in my own life, I don’t have the perfect solution. Sure, I can preach about “prioritizing sleep” until the cows come home, but when push comes to shove and the deadlines end up closer than I’d like to admit, I know I’ll still stay up to do work rather than not hand an assignment in. I can’t say this is only something that I would do, though it’s certainly not serving me too well. We know the negative effects of neglecting to get enough sleep, and yet, we still do it, year after year. A better solution would be a societal mindset shift. If we cared about individuals more than we did about their resumes, we might not be spending four-ish years stressed to the max. But hey, that’s just me. 


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