The myths of sleep deprivation among generation z(zzz)


Fatema Rehmani

A student accidentally falls asleep on her book in class. She got two hours of sleep the previous night. “I always fall asleep in my classes and miss out on information, so then I have to stay up the next night trying to figure out how to do the homework,” she said. “This cycle makes everything so hard, but I refuse to sleep at night because hashtag sleep is for the weak.”

Sleep is for the weak: the junior year mantra. Rise and grind, get ‘er done, do good things with your time—not because you care—solely to put on your applications. This is the time to make yourself look good on paper. Actual character development comes later in life. Burn bridges, burn yourself out (health is also for the weak), most importantly, burn your sleep schedule. If One Direction has figured this out, why can’t you? 

Lydia Roseman
Looking over ACT books, a calendar, freshly brewed coffee and alarms for the morning, a student prepares for a night of studying.

Instead of those consecutive hours of the night during which you lay motionless with shut eyes, try standing up and opening them. You can rest when you’re dead. In high school, the aforementioned hours are officially designated for work (or mindless time-wasting). Spread the word–you’ve got this, owls. Uh, I mean longhorns. 

Why, you ask? Because you are constantly allowing peers, teachers and everyone around you to gain the upper hand with time. You see them everyday—the heroes of our time, that is—walking into school with sunken eyes, coffee in hand, likely gravitating towards Kickstart vending machines. They’ve sacrificed their sleep for projects that will earn perfect scores, guaranteeing acceptance into elite colleges. Thus, I repeat: heroes

The feeling of inferiority is all too familiar when the inevitable question surfaces on test day: ‘I got two hours of sleep last night, how many did you get?’ You fumble with your pencil, heart rate quickening, vision blurring, headache intensifying. You know the number but instantaneously must decide if honesty is worth the awestruck expressions and judgements which follow. You consider minimizing the hours slightly to abate the embarrassment of being a weakling. Eventually, shamefully, head bowed, eyes darted at the floor, you respond, ‘um, like nine.’ 

Taken aback by the reverberation of your response in the now silent room, it doesn’t take long to realize you got the most sleep out of your classmates. Beneath a cloud of nonverbal sleep-shaming from your peers, you ponder internally, ‘is it even worth taking the test anymore? Am I bound to do the worst? I definitely did not study enough, as everyone else spent all of the previous night preparing for this.’ 

Calm your nerves with a double shot of espresso because here’s the good news: this situation is completely avoidable. Once you successfully resist temptations from your body to lay idly by as the clock ticks away, once you defeat the overwhelming social construct that is sleep, you can respond confidently, ‘none. I did not sleep,’ and you, too, will be a hero amongst your peers. You know what they say, your body usually does not know what you need. Your peers do. 

Fatema Rehmani
In the bathroom before school a student applies concealer to cover under-eye bags.

The following steps will guide you towards life without sleep so perfectly, it’s almost a dream. 

Step 1: Stop trying. It’s pointless. All that stuff about needing sleep is simply untrue; there is no science available, and all we know is that sleep deprivation is not a serious concern, it is a quirky t-shirt design. There is a reason we all are encouraged to join a multitude of activities whilst juggling incredibly extensive homework assignments, bombarded with pressures and a soul-killing college admissions process. Adults have been trying to subtly elucidate that sleep is for none other than weaklings. If you have not been catching on, this is my not-so-subtle message to you. Stop. 

Step 2: Mitochondria is to cell as you are to world: a powerhouse. Powerhouses most definitely do not rest because modern technology is undoubtedly unflawed. Unfortunately, many youths strive to be the greatest students, failing to recognize that there are too many students and too many idiosyncrasies unique to individuals to quantify and surpass. If we shift our focus from becoming better than others to becoming powerhouses, then—and only then—can our generation prosper.

Step 3: Don’t overthink it. Just do it. Live, love, sleep deprivation.