"If I go to sleep now, I can still get a solid 4 hours..."
I can't even tell you how many times I've used this line to tell myself that my behavior is okay. I've also attempted to sharpen my mental math skills trying to figure out the latest possible time I can go to sleep to get four hours of rest. It's a minimum I've determined myself, a number of how many hours I believe I personally need to function. But I can never seem to get it right because I make these decisions when I'm already sleep-deprived, which leads me to poor choices and staying up until I only have four hours left. So what happens? I wake up feeling sluggish.
What's keeping me up from getting the eight hours I actually need? Is it simply because there are not enough hours in the day? Should we, as a society, change our perceptions of time? After all, we have daylight savings, which further proves that time is really a social construct. I shouldn't waste time thinking of things that I have no control over - but this is just one of many things that keeps me awake at night.
"I've also attempted to sharpen my mental math skills trying to figure out the latest possible time I can go to sleep to get four hours of rest."
Is it school? Is it the amount of readings I've been assigned or the endless papers I must write to demonstrate my mastery of a subject? Surely, I can learn how to read faster. If I'm reading so much, shouldn't I be able to write eloquently and more importantly, concisely?
Is it my job? Is it the emails that are waiting for me in my inbox? Well, if I just replied to emails as I received them, even if they come in at 2:00 AM, then I would never have to feel pressure from people awaiting my reply.
The pressure I put on myself is a direct consequence of my choice not to sleep. I've consciously chosen to prioritize work, school and stress over sleep. But what if I added sleep onto my list of priorities? If I got enough sleep, I would be able to read faster instead of experiencing that lethargic feeling any time I crack open a book. If I got enough sleep, I would be able to sit at my desk and increase my productivity, rather than searching for sugar-filled snacks and caffeinated drinks to keep myself awake. And most importantly, my list of concerns would only have one thing on it: how many videos of puppies should I watch today for self-care?
"The pressure I put on myself is a direct consequence of my choice not to sleep. I've consciously chosen to prioritize work, school and stress over sleep."
If I got enough sleep, wouldn't I be able to count that as an act of self-care? If I got enough sleep, I'd reduce my time spent on electronics, which we know can be harmful for many reasons. If I got enough sleep, I'd be taking care of the one and only body I am given. If I got enough sleep, I'd be taking care of my mind, something that I must use every moment of every day and can easily be considered the most precious part of me.
Why is it that I keep forgetting that sleep is such a wonderful thing? Probably because I am not getting enough sleep to remember. And so the cycle continues.
This post is part of our series on sleep culture on college campuses. To join the conversation and share your own story, please email our Director of College Outreach Abby Williams directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can find out here if the #SleepRevolution College Tour will be visiting your campus, and learn how you can get involved. If your college is not one of the colleges already on our tour and you want it to be, please get in touch with Abby.