One might think that this isn’t an argument that requires making, merely supporting with additional scientific discovery, at this point. But apparently, one would be wrong.
This is a response to a certain art teacher, who says certain unhelpful things such as “find the time, find the money, stay up late”, “stay up late, get it done”, and “as they say in college: when you are partying or sleeping, someone else is working.”
I have several issues with this.
- Factually, this sort of advice/chastisement is drearily off the mark. Sleep is a basic and essential human need for survival. Sleep is a priority. If you can sleep and still have your other essential needs – food and shelter – the next morning, you need to sleep.
- Ideologically, I find this even more grating. If sleep is beneficial, and it is, then no one should be trying to idealize the deprivation of sleep. Point blank, you cannot and should not shame people for looking after themselves. Taking care of yourself is good. Knowing what you need and letting yourself have that is good. Supporting your brain in its need to function is good.
- Practically, this is completely ludicrous. Losing sleep is not going to make you a better student, in high school or in college. By staying up to finish one project, you sacrifice much of your cognitive ability, physical and emotional wellness, and energy to address classes and additional work for the following day. Even if you’re trying to prioritize your academic performance over your own health, this is not an effective way to go about it.
- Logically, this is the wrong argument to be making. Yes, we high school students do tend to stay up late to finish our work. Situations can vary, and occasionally we do in fact have to. But oftentimes, in the case of my fellow art students and me, we only have to stay up late because our time management skills are abysmal. If you are trying to coach us into being more effective students, you should be targeting our methods of managing our workloads.
A lot of my personal anger at how frequently he delivers such harmful remarks comes from my experience with sleep and sleep deprivation in combination with a major clinical depression. I have learned, through a long journey of self examination, that I Need To Sleep. This is not unusual. Everyone needs to sleep. Everyone feels better and performs better when they are well slept. For me, though, I have learned that the less I sleep, the less I am able to perform basic daily functions such as getting out of bed, performing facial expressions, and sometimes even moving. Not that I have ever been immobile for an entire day just because I didn’t get enough sleep, but exhaustion exacerbates my depression, and my depression likes to give me brief episodes of fairly severe executive dysfunction when it’s provoked.
I know, that for my success in addition to my safety, I need to put sleeping well before anything else I could possibly do. I know that I need a full night of sleep, or else I risk spiraling into a cycle of failure to complete important tasks, consequent self loathing and decreased motivation, and an increased compulsion towards self destructive behaviors. That is my personal experience, but to varying degrees these sorts of consequences are present for all humans. Humans need sleep. Some neurotypical people such as yourself, Mr. Brandhorst, might be able to lose sleep, suffer, and shrug it off, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone else. Even if it were:
DON’T TELL TEENAGERS
It’s honestly such a misuse of your authority as a teacher and adult to encourage and enable the devaluing of sleep by teenagers and society as a whole, which is already a huge problem. Teenagers don’t get enough sleep. Teenagers need to get more sleep. Our brains are not fully developed. Even if they were, sleep deprivation causes minor but permanent degrees of brain damage. Furthermore, losing sleep isn’t helpful in any sort of long run. Senior student Emma provides testimony that “literally almost all of my day to day troubles arise from or connect with not sleeping.” The message you spread is detrimental to health, self image, and academic performance as a whole. You cannot pass this one off to society or “just the way it is,” when you bring it up so frequently.
And you say this not as a warning, not as a helpful tip, not in conjunction with any actual advice about managing your time or surviving societal demands, but as simple brute intimidation to a class of overworked, anxious, neurodiverse individuals. I find this unacceptable.
I’m trying to speak logically and objectively, but to be quite honest, this makes me so furious that I could just as easily (and certainly as willingly) fill this long a post with cursing and vitriol. I’ve restrained myself thus far, and yet I will allow myself to conclude this post with the following.
Shut the fuck up.