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Columns

Sleep 1001 — Folks, Go to Sleep

By Ben A. Roy, Contributing Opinion Writer
Ben A. Roy ’20 is a Classics concentrator in Kirkland House. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays.

Hi again. Late last night after a fun time with the boys I decided to go to the dining hall and grab some grub before bed. When I got there, I saw you at one of the tables, your soulless, half-shut eyes illuminated by the white glow of your laptop. It seemed your fingers had a life of their own, furiously hammering out line after line of code, answer after answer for your p-set. I figured I’d see you again in the morning, same table, same ghoulish look on your face, once I returned from my Wednesday morning workout.

Really, I thought very little of you. I live that fitness life, so I always get my eight hours of rest to maximize my gains. You probably sleep eight hours a week if you’re lucky. But, since my heart is just as swole as every other part of my body, I’ll cut you some slack this one time. So, before we get you counting sheep (if you can even understand me through all your sleep-deprived delirium), I’m going to wake you up to some cold hard facts.

First, go to sleep. If you spammed through the Sleep 101 module like I did, you’re probably not up on the latest sleep tips, but forget that — I’ll tell you how it is. You’re sabotaging your body big time, even if you somehow also hit the gym 12 times a week like I do. If you don’t sleep, your brain doesn’t rest. It’s like a big muscle — if you don’t allow it proper recovery time, you’re never going to be smashing your PRs like you’ve always wanted to. When you don’t sleep, your brain gets messed up. Maybe you’ve been coding for hours, and it feels like you’re running a mental marathon, but trust me, if you actually rest up before you check over your work, you’ll realize it’s probably terrible. You don’t run your best steps at mile 20. Your form is gone by rep 15. You’re fatigued. You’re killing your gains.

So what should you do about it? You’re probably thinking: “Oh, well, how am I supposed to finish this marathon if you’re telling me to stop all the time?” Here’s the thing — screw the marathon. It may feel great when you finish, but when you’re 30 and you’ve got robo-hips and an iron knee and every staircase feels like death, maybe then you’ll wish you had just stuck to 5Ks.

It’s simple: If you just break it all down into easier parts, you won’t have to go balls to the wall every time you need to finish. They’re called p-“sets” for a reason, chief.

And hey, maybe you don’t always do your work this way. But it’s not always a bad thing to call it quits — not all your work has to be perfect. If handing in something incomplete sounds terrible to you, think about how low the stakes are right now. You go to an amazing school, and as long as you don’t flunk out of it (or even if you do!), you will never have to struggle for a decent job. So, really, just chill out.

Most importantly, you are not the reason that you are not getting enough sleep. We all like sleep, and unless you have insomnia you would be doing that all the time. But why does everyone have so much work to do? Why does everyone feel like they have to be a football-playing king in space just to fit in around here? Four classes feels like I’m already working 70 hours a week at a hedge fund. There’s no time for life, let alone sleep.

So, here’s what you’re not seeing when your eyes are glazed over and your mind is turned to mush — they got you on that treadmill, bro. They’re doing you dirty. We all know that the treadmill is cardio, and cardio steals your gains. And that’s not just “bro science” — if you’re trying to make your brain as swole as possible, you have to get off that infernal “work” treadmill and start lifting heavy. Don’t do your p-sets because you have to, do them because you want your mind to get swole — and while you’re at it, use your breaks to drink some water, eat them greens, and, most importantly of all, catch some “zzz’s.” You have to do it for yourself, because if you don’t, they’ll have you working non-stop for the rest of your life. So chill, bro, and question the system, not yourself — if you don’t, instead of “rest up” I’ll be saying “rest in peace.”

Ben A. Roy ’20 is a Classics concentrator in Kirkland House. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays.

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