It’s how I imagine damnation. The infernal trespass of the chirping. The pre-dawn offensive of the native bird population upon the ears of those “still awake.” There’s truly nothing worse.
After a long night of doing whatever it is one has to do, to be greeted — mocked — by the likes of the well-rested winged segment only furthers the misery of self-imposed insomnia.
Whether attempting to stay abreast, or playing catch-up, a university workload is a typical reason for the type of all-nighter everyone loves to loathe: the non-alcoholic type.
Papers, midterms, projects, readings, studying, crafting, cramming, building, writing, storing — a forced hand and a new hatred on life, the all-night school blitz bites everyone in the butt from time to time. I’ve had my and I’ve seen what it can do to the well-being of a “healthy” student.
The hallucinations, the moodiness, the increase in a defeatist attitude as the hands of the clock turn. The compromises that are made to just “get it done” as narcolepsy sets in. The pots of coffee. The cigarettes that wouldn’t have been smoked otherwise.
People go to extremes to make it through, to “stay the course” in order to prevent failure. There’s the aforementioned methods and then there’s the excessive.
Drug dealers and the attention deficit-afflicted profit from a sizable contingency of illegally vended Aderol and Ritalin to help many through the night. Others go a bit further, taking their drug abuse into the federal class, one arena with amphetamines and stimulants.
Scientific studies on the matter continue to be made. The obvious conclusion: College students abuse exorbitant amounts of caffeine and sleep well below the average of their non-scholastic counterparts. This results in scores of problems, including nervousness, depression, weight gain, drug addiction (prescription, over-the-counter and illegal) and impaired driving, which is also the No. 1 cause of death among college students.
Some produce their best work under the conditions. Most just work. I used to tell my parents I’d sleep when I was old. Although, after five years of physical and mental deprecation due to sleep deprivation and other factors, I feel like I’m due for the big sleep. Seemingly, there’s always more to do than what can be humanly done and … hold on, I have to make some more coffee.
So what can be done to curb the habit?
The obvious answer would include a constructed pyramid scheme of related priorities and a semblance of time management capabilities. Many, though, myself included, fail to produce unless a deadline or some form of imminent doom is on the immediate horizon.
Rather, we seem to enjoy pushing our mental endurances to the breaking point. Producing term papers that replace what could have been thoughtful brilliance with redundant gibberish. In accords, studies have shown that all-night cramming produces short-term memories of the knowledge, but also leaves the individual’s synapses too exhausted to retrieve the information when it’s needed in the short hours after it’s been logged.
I may never learn my lesson. In fact, when this paper begins its predawn creation in Lancaster, I’ll be busy BS’ing through yet another paper, with bloodshot eyes and nonsensical sentence structures.
Thank God I’m graduating.
Ian James, The Lantern, Ohio State University.