Let me ask you a question. How do you people sleep at night?
I’m serious — and not just at night. More and more, I’m noticing students sleeping at school… during the day! Some of you guys seem able to fall asleep anywhere: in the Library, in the Building 13 Atrium, waiting for academic advisors in Building 11 and pretty much anywhere else there are chairs on campus.
So, how do you do it? What’s the secret?
I’ve suffered from long nights, maybe mild insomnia, for most of my life. I need at least 18 hours of activity under my belt before I even begin to feel that I should turn in. Even after I climb into bed, I still have another three hours ahead of me before I (might) pass out.
I spend most of my schooldays punching myself in the head, trying to jumpstart my brain before an exam or speech. But the second I lay my head down on the pillow that night, my mind is in full-swing and turns into a Ringling Brothers cirucs of random thoughts.
Right now, I’m averaging about three hours of sleep a night. And I’ve tried everything — reading in bed, watching TV, keeping a cool bedroom and avoiding late-night food and caffeine. Nothing helps.
I spend most of my goofing around on the “weird side of the Internet,” getting caught up in YouTube’s suggested videos, clicking deeper and deeper into Wikipedia (did you know that Persepolis is 43 miles northeast of Shiraz in the Fars Province?) and to top it all off, I’ve recently become a Redditor.
I’m midway through three books (not including textbooks), made my way through entire seasons of television shows, memorized dialogue from recently released movies and have begun noticing patterns on my iPod’s shuffle setting.
I’ve started having a couple beers before bed and that helps a little, but that’s not a healthy, long-term solution.
I go to school full-time, I work two jobs and I just took up skateboarding again to help stay active during the day.
And this brings me back to you guys snoozing around campus — what are you doing all day long to burn so much energy? How many credit hours are you taking? Do you jog to school or something?
Or is it simply that you have a long break between classes, you’ve decided to stay on campus and you’re bored to tears.
I don’t know how you do it and I’m jealous. I’ve only dozed off once at school and that was after roughly 48 hours of no sleep.
I believe this is what the online masses refer to as “first world problems.” There’s even a popular meme of the same title. A good example of this might be a distraught woman boohooing, “my diamond earrings keep scratching my iPhone.”
It’s not that I can’t fall asleep because bombs are exploding by my home near the Gaza Strip, or because I’m an infected child born into an epidemic of over 5,600,000 fellow HIV-positive South Africans or because my grandmother is within range of a North Korean Taepodong-2 ballistic missile.
I don’t lie awake at night with hunger pains or wonder how I’m going to pay the heating bill.
There’s a haunting Pulitzer-winning photograph by Kevin Carter, who has since committed suicide, of a starving, collapsed Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture. That photo depicts a real problem.
This is nothing. This is boredom.
Of course, true insomnia isn’t a pretend problem for the privileged by any means. Sleep disorders are very real, painful medical conditions that, according to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, affects 40 percent of Americans.
But in my case, I don’t think this is a neurological disorder. I think this is dispassion.
Is that fair? Is it fair to be so lazy and comfortable in my life that I can’t find enough to do to make myself tired by the end of the day?
I shouldn’t be content as just another American, waiting around for the return of the McRib.
I should be taking advantage of how fortunate I am to be this free, with this much time and opportunity on my hands.
If I’m not tired at the end of the day, then maybe I haven’t done enough with my day.
I could get up with the sun and leap out of bed. I could skip the “Breaking Bad” marathon and volunteer somewhere. I could learn to play a musical instrument. I could learn a second language. I could read not to fall asleep, but to be awoken — I could do anything I wanted with my day.
I should wake up and make myself tired. I should give every ounce of energy to everything I do, everyday.
I shouldn’t let that opportunity slip away to apathy.
I should feel bad about my laziness and my tendency to waste entire days. And maybe, deep down, I do. Maybe remedying this and truly seizing each day will yield a solution: a clear conscious.