Editorial Notebook

Searching for balance between health and success

People who are sleep deprived are nearly three times more at risk for Type 2 diabetes, see a 48 percent increased likelihood in developing heart diseases, and are three times more likely to catch a cold than their rested peers according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, “Only 11 percent of American college students sleep well, and 40 percent of students feel well rested only two days per week.” That means just over one in ten of our classmates sleep well. That seems problematic.

What is the reasoning behind this plague of sleep deprivation? The consequences seem so severe, yet a lack of sleep seems systematically engrained in college life. We could blame this on poor time management of individual students, but that would encompass 89 percent of them. I think it is more than just poor time management. Maybe if you are paying tens of thousands of dollars a semester to attend school, every minute you spend not working on school seems wasted. Sleep seems like a waste when there is always more you could be doing. Especially at RPI, a school where 100 percent is almost unattainable in most classes, there is almost never an upper ceiling on the amount of work that could be done.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a heavy workload. It is actually, in my opinion, a good thing. And keep in mind, we all signed up for this. Of course, there are ways to manage the work and accompanying stress in a healthier way. Rather than constantly overworking at the expense of sleep, and therefore at the expense of overall physical and mental health, we should strive to make a solid balance between our responsibility to our health and to everything else.

This idea is nothing new. Every self-help article will tell you to follow a strict schedule, or shut off your phone after 11 pm. This advice is always helpful, but lacks an important part: getting things done is also important. Different things hold different weights. While health is incredibly important, it should not serve as an excuse to not work hard or not get results. While I strive to live a healthy lifestyle, sometimes other things take precedence. Staying up ridiculously late is only helpful to a certain extent— at some point you will get diminishing returns.

While sleep deprivation seems almost unavoidable in college, so are expectations. Everyone needs to find the optimal balance between health and results for themselves.