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Duke's sleeping beauties

With the end of the semester quickly approaching, it seems that many of students, myself included, have been finding it difficult to stay focused and motivated throughout their last few rounds of midterms. As a solution to their frustration, many have begun to experiment with sleep cycles as a way to keep themselves awake through the depressingly monotonous and routine months of fall.

Among the most impressive of these experiments, my friend Julian Lafaurie, a Trinity junior, has given up spending time with his friends and adopted the sleep schedule of a 45-year-old mother of three.

During an early dinner at the Commons (so as not to ruin his delicate itinerary), he explained to me that “I wake up every morning by like 7 a.m., get all my work done, go to class, and am in bed around 9 or 10 p.m. It works because I feel absurd going on Facebook at seven in the morning, and no one is texting me so I can’t get distracted. And then I’m relaxed and done with everything by the time I’m climbing into bed.”

Julian has apparently convinced his roommate to adopt the same routine, as he says it would have been otherwise impossible to adhere to this plan. “Since I don’t get to see any of my friends because I’m asleep when everyone is hanging out, it’s nice to have someone to talk to that isn’t my own reflection in the mirror,” he said. “We start every morning with coffee and an episode of ‘The Office.’”

Me too. Except I watch it right before my own bedtime, at approximately 2 in the morning after a long night of inefficiency, emotional breakdowns and Saladelia carbs.

A study done at Texas University in 2008 actually found that students who woke up early tended to have much higher GPAs, while insomnia was linked to lower GPAs. But, clearly, early risers may also be more likely to turn into crazy-cat people: Julian and his roommate have already begun showing symptoms, making cookies every now and then to pass out to their neighbors on Central Campus and forcing their friends to eat dinner with them at 5:30 p.m.

My hallmate Emma Klugman, a Trinity sophomore, also enjoys the quiet of early mornings. She is usually up by 6:30 a.m., either to finish work or to go horseback riding at a nearby stable. Emma is an avid horseback rider, which gets her out of bed before the sun is up. “I’m not very productive late at night, and I like having the campus to myself so early,” she told me.

Emma goes to bed around midnight, allowing her six-and-a-half hours of sleep every night. Emma swore that this was enough for her, and that she even gets to “do 20 to 40 minutes of leisurely reading before going to bed.” It seems that her evolution into a crazy-cat lady is already complete.

The perks of waking up early still doesn’t tempt other students, like Trinity junior Sofia Velazquez. She finds it difficult to sleep when it’s dark outside and often finds herself distracted by other fun activities, like walking and cooking. “When I can’t sleep because I’m just overthinking something, I’ll go for a walk around the quad, even if it’s two in the morning,” she explained.

“Monday through Friday, I generally get between three and five hours of sleep—but when it’s a bad week, there will be at least two days when I don’t sleep at all.”

Her roommate Francesca Martella, also a Trinity junior, said that she sometimes wakes at the crack of dawn to the smell of Sofia’s cooking. “I thought it was like seven in the morning once when I found her sautéing mushrooms in red wine,” Francesca recalled.

Sofia explained that she had been awake already, and figured she may as well get started on breakfast. “I just thought, why not, you know? I couldn’t sleep anyways. But the mushrooms came out tasting like cheap wine. Turns out that my mom makes it look easier than it is.” 

Sofia’s story is assuring; it comforted me in knowing that I haven’t lost it quite as much as others have. In order to recuperate from so many lost nights of sleep, Sofia crashes for at least 10 hours every Saturday, and throughout the week she makes it through by drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee.

Though I’d originally been holding off becoming a coffee drinker until I was at least 25, I may be reaching the end of my capacity to motivate myself without the help of a stimulant. Homework that once took me an hour now takes three, and it’s become a painful chore to balance my social life, academic requirements and health.

I’m not alone. Berke Ozdemir, a Pratt junior, downloaded an alarm application on his phone that makes him stand up and take a picture of something in order to snooze it. “So I literally get up, take the picture, and then dive back into bed and sleep through class. It’s impossible to actually wake up,” he told me. 

For a growing number of us, it’s almost always impossible to get up. 

So as the semester gets closer to reaching its end, it seems that most of us are just barely hanging on to whatever sleep they can get until winter break, when a large part of the Duke population will enter into a deep state of hibernation before spring brings everyone out of the recesses of their pillows and comforters. Until then, we’ll just continue trying our best to succeed academically to deserve that $70,000 keeping us in school, rest well enough to not enter mental frenzies and still have time to get to know each other on deep, personal levels. 

Shouldn’t be too difficult. 

Daniela Flamini is a Trinity junior. Her column usually runs on alternate Mondays.

Daniela Flamini

Daniela Flamini is a Trinity junior. Her column runs on alternate Mondays.


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