The Sleep Acknowledgement

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Me looking at my phone as I sometimes do late at night even to the detriment of my sleep. This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about (Photo by H. Smith).

Hannah Smith, Copy Editor

Everyone has been in a class and heard the kid raving about how little sleep they got. How they stayed up all night writing essays and doing homework or just plain doing anything until five in the morning and if you haven’t then that kid was probably you. I, however, have never been that kid.

If you have never had the pleasure of meeting me day two of bad sleep then count your blessings. Even day one might not be pretty. The patience level is teetering and with one wrong step it slips and I snap. The enthusiasm isn’t there and my general ability to care about things can’t be found. I don’t function after 10 p.m., nothing productive actually gets done. But a lot of unproductive things can get done, I can read that book I’ve been meaning to get to or scroll through Instagram or finally learn the secret to bullet journaling all while calculating exactly how much sleep I won’t be getting, but for some reason just not putting down my phone.

However, quarantine really solved this issue. I could stay up way too late learning the secret to running a successful YouTube channel and still wake up at eight and get my day done. There weren’t classes to show up for, there were only assignments to do and they could be done in a matter of hours. The summer was the same, I could get that eight hours of sleep even if I didn’t get to bed at the best time. And I loved it. I felt awake, I hadn’t realized how tired I was until I was rested. 

Now because of my inability to work in the evenings, I’ve always considered myself an early bird. I love the ideas of productive mornings when one can sit with coffee and contemplate the meaning of life. So, I casually signed myself up for an 8 a.m. JCCC class. No biggie. Now anyone who has ever had to create their own class schedule where there was maybe an option to just not have a first hour is cringing and/or laughing at me. And the rest of you at least know where this is going! MISTAKE, getting up for an 8 a.m. class isn’t a big deal until you don’t have to, then it mutates into a constant reminder of your lost time in bed.

So, the end of my summer came the end of my eight-hour sleep time and it was not working. I hated it and the worst part was I couldn’t even blame school for taking up the last few hours of my day. I couldn’t blame it on Mrs. Manning’s essay or my insane amount of math homework. I could try to blame Instagram for their great selection of Avatar memes and cake decorating videos, but even that felt wrong.

So, there was only one question: why wasn’t I prioritizing sleep?

Now my hope was when I sat down to write this that by this time I would have come up with a really righteous answer. That I could blame hustle culture for making me feel like I had to work, only I wasn’t working. I could blame society for never allowing me to prioritize my own desire for watching tik toks until late at night, that above all else there was going to be someone else to blame other than myself.

Only there isn’t. There is no one to blame except me. So we are at a crossroads: do I write about taking responsibility or do I write about the feeling when I lay down at the end of the day to look at my phone, to ignore the sense of guilt building in my stomach as I realize how much time has slipped away, but as I’ve recently turned 18 I should probably choose the former. That’s how growing up works.

The truth is it is my responsibility, I am the one who has to decide to ignore the silent ‘competition’ of who can stay up the latest, who can get the most done and just go to sleep. Because there are so many things for me to be worried about: paying for college, the imminent collapse of our environment, whether or not people will notice that I’m wearing this hoodie for the fourth time this week, but how much sleep I’m getting shouldn’t be  one of them. But it’s not that easy. It’s not easy to always choose the right thing to do and I’m not the first to discover this particular predicament, but I think the first step is acknowledging it.

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