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Catherine A Pishal Headshot

How New York City Ruined My Ability to Get a Good Night's Sleep

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As I am writing this blog post, I once again find myself sitting in bed counting down the hours until I have to get up (7 a.m., ugh!) and playing that fun little math game I think every college student can identify with: "Well, if I fall asleep by one, I get six hours of sleep. That's not too bad." "Okay, now it's two. If I fall asleep RIGHT NOW I can manage five hours. I can function on five hours." Inevitably this line of thinking has the adverse effect of causing me so much stress about not being able to sleep that I still cannot sleep. In the end, it's a lose/lose situation.

Until college, I never had a problem sleeping. In high school I was never the girl who could pull all-nighters. I remember procrastinating finishing Billy Budd for my sophomore English class, planning on staying up and finishing it the night before it was due. I was out cold by midnight, and while I didn't get the book read in time, I did get a good six hours of sleep.

I started college in the city that never sleeps, in a residence hall in midtown Manhattan, and sleep became my last priority. The combination of living with four other girls, the ever-present "white noise" of the city, and the "college freshman in the big city" attitude made staying up all night seem like the best choice. Adding to this pattern was one major discovery: coffee.

This magical liquid made it completely reasonable to assume that I could stay up until 4 a.m. and still be functional, if not efficient the next day. So what if I was sitting in class practically vibrating? I was living the dream!

Eventually the caffeine high would wear off and lead to a crash of epic proportions. The magical thing about college however, is that once your class is over, you are free to do whatever you please. For me this was napping. I was queen of the midday nap, usually hitting the sheets around four pm and waking up by eight or nine to bang out some homework. By the time that was done, it was once again the wee hours of the morning and I had to accept the fact that I was in for four hours of sleep at the most as the cycle began again.

Now I'm a senior, and faced with the daunting task of having to be a productive member of society in less than ten months, I have made the resolution to put a stop to this bad sleep cycle. It's my semester goal and I invite you to join me as I valiantly try to stick to it!

For now, I sit here watching the numbers on the clock flip by, counting down the hours until the alarm will rouse me just minutes (at least it feels that way!) after I finally fall asleep.