A full night’s sleep is hardly a tradition for college first-years. At Harvard, with new people and experiences to discover in a storied city, plenty of 18-year-olds would rather be out on the town than counting sheep.
But this year, students in the Class of 2022 may decide to turn in a bit earlier, thanks to the work of Raymond So ’21 and Charles Czeisler ’74, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and chief, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).
For the first time at Harvard, incoming first-years are being asked to complete “Sleep 101″ by bedtime on move-in day (Aug. 27). A component of the Sleep Matters Initiative at BWH, “Sleep 101” is an interactive module designed to increase student awareness of the health and performance implications of sleep, as well as provide tips and strategies on how best to maintain a healthy sleep schedule in a competitive, busy environment such as college.
Though sleep is a hygienic activity that doctors recommend take up a third of each day, some College students (and others) treat it more like a nuisance than a necessity. In academic environments, sleep deficiency can be a makeshift metric for achievement, with students boasting of how little shut-eye they get. Students often associate academic success with effort, and perhaps the most notorious and grueling rite of passage is the all-nighter.
The reality, obvious with hindsight and a good night’s sleep, is that all-nighters rarely produce the sought-after As, and no quantity of coffee can make one a better reader or writer.