To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

Christine Uyemera, SEAS ’13

As the end of the semester draws near, students have to make the ultimate decision: to sleep or not to sleep?

Finals week is the most stressful time for everyone (minus those few lucky freshmen or seniors who got away with taking only three classes, pass/fail classes, or classes that give the option to drop the final exam grade). Between projects, papers, gift-buying, hanging out with friends before going home, and the finals themselves, it often feels like there aren’t physically enough hours in the day to get everything done that we need to. How can we possibly make good grades and still be sane? What is the right combination of sleep and other things? There are three main approaches that three different types of students take to solving this equation:

1. Sleepless Sallys: One option that some  students consider is to give up as much sleep as possible to make time for everything else. This is normally manifested in multiple all-nighters, sometimes consecutive ones, with 1-2 hour “power naps” sprinkled into the schedule and taken only when absolutely necessary (typically these naps are involuntary). Sleepless Sallys can be found with a Vente Starbucks coffee at any given time. Although they might complain about their workload, friends of Sleepless Sallys can see it in their eyes. They have semi-permanent setups in Van Pelt/Houston Hall/ Huntsman and will probably be living there 20-24 hours of the day. A typical day for a Sleepless Sally begins at the library during either day or night and has no clear end, despite the so-called sunrise and sunset.

2. Balanced Bettys: Despite students’ constant insistence that they have no idea how so much work piled up, and there’s no way they could have ever gotten it all done before now, there are always students who actually started the project the day it was given out/read the chapters every week before lecture/followed the timeline for the research paper. At least enough to where Reading Days and Finals week is manageable. Finals week is truly no big deal at all to Balanced Bettys, who spend a scheduled, moderate 2-4 hours per day working or studying and are free to do their Christmas shopping in the mornings and go to end-of-semester BYOBs with their friends at night. Balanced Bettys are probably in the College, and will almost certainly protest that they are just as stressed and busy as anyone else.


3. Party Pats: Finally, there are the students who put immediate happiness before all else. Party Pats pull all-nighters in a different way. They wouldn’t be caught dead staying up late for schoolwork and spend ample time on their holiday shopping and end-of-the-year friend-visiting. They will spend a few hours here and there looking at course material when they can’t find anyone else to hang out with or they need a break from the TV show marathon they’ve been watching. However, the majority of any project-doing or exam-studying is done the night before or the day of. Party Pats can exists in either extreme academically: they will either make the A+ on the exam regardless of the amount of time spent studying or fail the class completely. Either way, Party Pats live by the phrases “oh ,well,” and “whatever…”

All three of the these student types have their pros and cons. The choice is really dependent on what kind of student you’ve been all semester, your personal expectations, and how much pressure you can take before going insane. Freshmen will be struggling to decide who they are going to be while upperclassmen have known from day one of finals week. Regardless, come December 22nd, it will ALL be over and we students can go into hibernation mode for a few weeks before starting all over again.


1 Comment

Filed under Academics, Christine U., Student Perspective

One response to “To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

  1. Pingback: My Top Penn List: Student Perspectives of Penn | Frankly Penn

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