Sleep & Me

It’s midnight. I sit quietly in front of my laptop, working to the gentle hum of piano coffee house music. I fill out a BuzzFeed quiz, quickly clicking the vanilla latte and pressing sleep as my hobby. I glance at the clock again — 2:15 a.m. I tap my laptop closed and lay in bed. Sleep for at least 8 hours a day for a healthy sleep regiment, I think. I do the math in my head: 6 hours until I have to wake up.

As I climb out of bed, a refreshing feeling of satisfaction rises from my toes to my chest. I stretch my arms out and extend my body as far as I can. WOW what a great feeling, I think — not.

In reality, a typical day includes me dragging my body out of bed at 7:30 a.m., ready to start slaving away at my future and rubbing my sleep-deprived eyes in hopes that I can somehow cast away the tiredness.

My rocky relationship with sleep started as early as preschool. I remember complaining to my parents about sleeping later. I wanted to be like the big kids and stay up when they had friends over. I wanted to be like my cousin who got to watch movies really late, but I couldn’t. I just wanted to have more time in the day.  As I got older, starting in middle school, my sleep would occasionally dip into the 8 hour range, straying from the typical 9-10 hours I would usually get — and every year after, the number would fall just enough so that I could say it was basically the same amount as before, but in reality it was slowly declining.

I’ve often heard people boasting about all-nighters and their subsequently high consumption of coffee. What is it about the lack of sleep that makes everyone wear their (small) numbers with pride? The less you sleep, the more impressive you are. Why do we thrive on the pain and physical torture of our bodies? The more sleep we lose, the more our deficit grows until your body rebels and you pass out — so what is the allure of no sleep? What is our relationship with it?

My friends and I often talk about how much sleep we’ve gotten in GroupMe, each of us gushing about how lucky someone is for sleeping 10 hours, but then neglecting to make time for it in our own schedules.

Sleep is a reward.

Sleep is a hobby.

Sleep is an optional task.

In reality, sleep is a necessity. Sleep is what makes us run. Sleeping is as essential as eating and exercising. We should not prioritize getting that extra work done over sleep. Ultimately, not sleeping hurts us more than it benefits us, yet our society has conditioned us to think otherwise. Sufficient sleep is reserved for people who have the time and ability to; it is a luxury. It’s high time we change that.

-Jessica Lee

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