Give the toxic sleep talk a rest

When students humble brag about their poor sleeping habits and justify them by blaming the need to study, it justifies and encourages poor habits.

Staying+up+late+is+normalized+at+SPA.

Mimi Huelster

Staying up late is normalized at SPA.

It’s a daily conversation: 

“Ugh, I’m so tired. I only got [insert low number] hours of sleep last night.”

And then, more often than not, someone else responds with:

“Lucky. I only got [insert even lesser number of] hours.”

This brief conversation poses a serious problem, as it not only makes an unhealthy lack of sleep seem normal, but also gives sleeplessness a competitive edge in an already competitive environment.

It is no secret that there is an unspoken level of pressure to succeed placed upon students, whether it be from themselves or others. Comparing lack of sleep adds another level of competition that involves students personal lives and health. It only adds more fuel to the simmering toxic fire that envelopes the student body. 

It is no secret that there is an unspoken level of pressure to succeed placed upon students, whether it be from themselves or others.”

When students humble brag about their poor sleeping habits and justify them by blaming the need to study, it justifies and encourages poor habits. Those who would not normally stay up late doing homework start doing so because “so-and-so does it, and they seem to be doing fine in class.” This could be the case, but more often than not, “so-and-so” is exaggerating the time they spent awake, or they are wearing a carefully crafted mask to disguise their academic struggles. Not only that, but when students don’t get enough sleep, they begin decrease in their academic performance, which causes them to study harder and harder, long into the night, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. According to the Better Sleep Council, 89% of teenagers who experience more stress than others say that schoolwork is a main stressor, and out of those teens, 76% say that they don’t get enough sleep. 

“We’re finding that teenagers are experiencing this cycle where they sacrifice their sleep to spend extra time on homework, which gives them more stress—but they don’t get better grades,” said the vice president of marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council, Mary Helen Rogers.

There perpetuates a rising perception that bragging about personal physical and mental health problem somehow makes someone more intriguing. Insomnia—a genuine medical condition that many use unwittingly to describe their personal decision to stay awake with external means—is not a personality trait, and saying one has it does not make that person more “quirky.” It should not be something to brag about, least of all one-upped on. Never mind that claiming a medical condition no one would want is insulting to those who truly struggle with insomnia and its consequences. It’s insensitive and uninformed and the exact opposite of impressive.

If anything, those who truly struggle with insomnia and other conditions that affect their sleep should begin or keep talking with those they trust about their issues.”

All of this isn’t to say that people, especially students, shouldn’t talk about their physical and mental health struggles. If anything, those who truly struggle with insomnia and other conditions that affect their sleep should begin or keep talking with those they trust about their issues. And if someone is one of those individuals who is being trusted, they should please not try and one-up their friend. It serves nothing to themselves, nor their friend, and can make their friend feel like their uncontrollable problems are small and unimportant compared to the other’s poor decisions. Instead, one should focus on the positives of one’s own sleep schedule—not necessarily boasting about having a good night’s sleep, but focusing instead on improving one’s sleep, and encouraging as well as offering support to others, too.