PLYMOUTH, Connecticut, U.S.A. — During senior year it seems like a great to-do list forms that includes all the step-by-step procedures we need to complete in order to get our diploma, get into college, and not be total failures in life.
Piles of homework from AP classes, college applications and essays, sports, and long work hours – most often from grueling minimum wage jobs – are just a few items on the list that seems to grow by the day.
Students today are fairly good about prioritizing what must be done, though. They type their essays before they’re due, they punch-in and punch-out of work in a timely fashion, and everything else is somehow taken care of with sanity relatively intact.
But there’s one item at the very bottom of the to-do list that always seems to get short-changed in the name of modern student efficiency: sleep.
Sleep is almost an after-thought, something that has no deadline and can therefore be pushed off until it more conveniently fits into our schedule.
The acceptable amount of sleep dwindles in proportion to the workload, from 10 hours to seven, seven to five, and the less fortunate learn to cope with even smaller quotas of rest. The 21st century student rationalizes exhaustion as the price to pay for accomplishing the number three goal: not being a total failure in life. It’s almost as if the sentiment is, “If I manage to finish all my projects, papers, homework (ad infinitum), I might even get to sleep tonight!”
No one objects to this growing trend. Parents allow it, students embrace it, and teachers become disgusted with anyone who uses “being tired” as an excuse for not doing work. Existing in a near-constant state of fatigue is now considered the norm.
I myself have fallen into this trap. The amount of work simply exceeds the available time each day.
I’ve since started to improvise when it comes to sleeping. I take one or two-hour power naps each night before getting up to work again for the rest of the evening. I’ve slept through my study halls regularly, and some classes have become designated sleep periods.
With all my work not being finished until late at night or sometimes very early in the morning, I’ve learned to adapt to a world that no longer accepts the concept of sleep as a worthwhile endeavor.
I’ve even gotten used to the idea of writing newspaper articles at 3:30 a.m.
Stefan Koski is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.