Freshman year of college is a time for experimentation. For many people, it is the first extended taste of living with minimal supervision, and things once believed to be impossible enter the realm of possibility.
Last Thursday, I was involved in an experiment of my own, something I would never have seen myself doing in my high school years. No, I didn’t shotgun a full case of beers. I didn’t try a colorful designer drug, nor did I run a naked lap around the entire campus of the College of William and Mary. That fateful night, for the first time in my college career, I went to bed before 11 p.m., and good lord, it felt good.
Growing up, I always felt a rebellious urge to outlast my parentally mandated curfew, always electing to sneak in another 30 minutes devoted to watching another episode of “El Tigre,” finishing a chapter of whatever youth series I was reading at the time or racing through a few courses of Mario Kart. As high school came along, stricter curfews gave way to begrudging parental pleas to go to bed at a reasonable hour. As I did when I was young, I always slightly disobeyed, going to bed a tad bit later and waking up a tad more tired than I ought to have been.
Due to my self-made tradition of late nights, I assumed that this trend would continue into college, and I was not wrong. However, what keeps me up has certainly changed. It is widely acknowledged around campus that the College is known and somewhat characterized by a culture of stress.
While I wouldn’t consider my late habits here to be a product of stress, I would be lying if I said my urge to keep awake didn’t come from an innate desire to keep working. There always seem to be more readings to finish, more to write, more to learn and more things that should very well be done before I fall asleep.
A shift has occurred from staying up to watch an episode of “The Twilight Zone” for relaxation to setting deadlines to reach before falling asleep. When I decided to rest early on Thursday, I was at a point of tired desperation, hoping I would somehow be able to have a productive morning and make up for the work I’d be ignoring that night.
I was not only extremely well-rested the entirety of the next day, but I managed to get more done that morning than I could have possibly imagined the night before. It is ridiculously easy to let the stress of tomorrow keep you up today. Most of the time, it is true that the earlier work gets done, the better.
When it comes to sleep, however, work should never be allowed to take precedent. The autonomy college allows makes it your decision to set a reasonable curfew for yourself, and different sleep schedules work for different people. Next time you are looking to try something wild and new at the College; however, I highly recommend that experiment take the form of a well-deserved early bedtime.
Email Anthony Madalone at firstname.lastname@example.org.