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Undergraduates Find Creative Methods for Balancing School Work and Sleep

By Pamela S. Wasserstein

Harvard students are famed for their resourcefulness, especially when it comes to finding a place to sleep.

"When I have a Computer Science assignment to do, I often end up crawling under a table in the Science Center's computer lab to get a few hour's sleep," says Anna Medvedovsky '00.

Medvedovsky is one of the many students at Harvard who complain that their workload can, at times, make a good night's sleep hard to come by. Yet Medvedovsky manages, like many of her peers, to use her creativity to balance a healthy workload with a not-so-healthy sleeping patern.

To begin with, Medvedovsky does not limit her nocturnal escapades to the Science Center.

"I also end up sleeping in the math department when a problem set is due. I am not alone, though. There are usually a bunch of people sleeping there," she says.

Medvedovsky suggests that the popularity of sleeping in the math department might have something to do with the comfortable couches that the department offers.

Comfort definitely plays a role in the popularity of a nearby shuteye hot spot: Cabot Library.

Daniel G. Habib '00 says that it is the cushiness of Cabot's leather chairs that often send him to dreamland.

"You're really comfortable," says Habib. "You're studying something that's maybe not so interesting, so you drift off."

Cabot-sleeping reaches a peak during exam period when the library is open 24 hours a day.

"During exams, I saw people in Cabot with toothpaste, pillows, blankets," says Chiqui O. Matthew '00. "People really seem to camp out there."

Some students prefer to sleep at unusual times rather than in unusual places.

Paul M. Goldschmid '00 went for nine days without sleeping during night-time hours.

"I decided that I couldn't get my work done when my roommates were awake, so I started sleeping during the day and working at night," Goldschmid says. "The problem is, when you have classes until four in the afternoon, you're totally dead by then."

Micaela K. Root '00, who is a Crimson editor, says that she prefers to take what she refers to as "short naps" while working late on a paper.

"I find that, when I get tired, it's better for me to just go to sleep and then wake up a little later and keep working," Root says.

Root says that although she has trouble estimating how many of these short "naps" she will take in a given night, she uses many techniques to wake herself.

"I just keep hitting [the sleep button] for hours," she says.

Root's routine of alternating between short "naps" and school work can sometimes continue well into the morning hours, at which time Root heads off to breakfast.

"It may not be the most healthy system in the world, but it works for me," says Root, echoing a sentiment felt by many unconventional sleepers.

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