If you often have to put sleep down as a scheduled activity in your iCal, if you frequently miss meals because they aren't time-efficient, or if you panic when your shower is two minutes longer than planned, you might be a Harvard student—at least, according to this article in Harvard Magazine.
The article, which discussed the lives of over-scheduled Harvard undergraduates, highlighted the schedules of various students and noted that "students today routinely sprint through jam-packed daily schedules, tackling big servings of academic work plus giant helpings of extracurricular activity in a frenetic tizzy of commitments."
So why do we do this? What's so scary about having blank spots on our schedules?
“There are just so many opportunities available that if you're not doing something you feel like you're missing out on some opportunity." Carolina B. Beltran '13 told us. "Also, we're all overachievers and we want to maximize our time and get the most."
Beltran participates in a Christian fellowship group, is a director for the Summer Urban Program, and is the political chair for RAZA. When we asked how she thinks this culture of cramming affects her fellow students, she said, "Students don't know how to slow down and just take an hour for themselves, sit down and just breathe, or relax. They always feel like they have to be moving or doing something. I think in some sense that's good, but I think that a lot of students are unhealthy. I know people that don't sleep and skip meals all the time."
We Harvard students are certainly not unfamiliar with sleep deprivation. The article stated that varsity athletes, representing about 20 percent of undergraduates, seem to be the only sizable student category to sleep and rise at roughly conventional hours, according to Harry R. Lewis ’68, professor of computer science and former dean of Harvard College.
In our effort to be the best, we often hurt ourselves, Beltran said. "Students here need to learn how to take care of their bodies and their mental and emotional health."
So as you think about the six midterms, four papers, 25 hours of meetings, and that inconvenient activity know as sleep that you have to fit in next week, relax. We're all in this together. Take a break, see a Broadway show, take a trip out to Boston like you've always thought about doing, and for everyone's sake, remember that showers are never a waste of time.
Correction: Feb. 23, 2010
An earlier version of this post stated incorrectly that Carolina B. Beltran '13 was featured in the Harvard Magazine article. In fact, she was not mentioned in the article.