Even though I am rarely directly asked this question, I know it’s often in the back of people’s minds when they’re thinking about MIT: do you crazy kids ever get any sleep?
Of course we do. I mean, for one thing, you’re talking to someone who loves sleep. Sleep and food are two of my very favorite things in life, which is somewhat sensible if you think about it. Plus, there’s good evidence that sleep inspires creative thinking, and if there’s one thing we’re good at here, it’s creative thinking, darn it.
Being a biology major and dataphile and Excel-lover, I have kept detailed track of my sleep patterns for almost three years now. I wish I had a better justification than this, but in 9.00 (intro to psychology) Professor Wolfe mentioned this guy who had kept his sleep records for thirty years, and how helpful it had been to science, and then I was like “hey, that sounds like a good idea” and my sleep statistics Excel spreadsheet was born. I don’t really know what compels me to keep it up, other than sheer love of data.
Anyway. My sleep statistics clearly show that it is possible to get an adequate amount of sleep at MIT, as long as you’ve figured out what you need to do in order to get that amount of sleep. (Freshmen are notoriously bad about this. As a freshman, I frequently started problem sets at midnight the night before they were due, then wondered why I couldn’t stay awake through class. Hello?)
Side note: Some people, like Dave (who commented on my last entry) work best under pressure, and end up pulling lots of all-nighters because that’s when they do their best work. You’re welcome to do that too.
Lots of people at MIT are night owls, although I think that’s largely due to being 18-22 years old… it’s usually possible to find people up and around campus at any hour of the day except approximately 6-8 AM. The upside at MIT is that, due to Institute regulations, the earliest hour-long classes begin at 9 AM. (Most of my friends at other schools have 8 AM or even 7:30 classes. When they complain, I like to give them a blank look, as though the concept is entirely foreign to me.)
The calendar is another friend to sleep; as I’ve mentioned before, there’s usually at least one student holiday per month (this Friday, for instance). Many people use these days as religious holidays dedicated to serving the God of Sleep. Moreover, the entire month of January is Independent Activities Period, a time to take an interesting class, learn a skill, or sleep a whole bunch.
Getting plenty of sleep is perfectly possible at MIT. Sometimes you just have to do a little planning to make it all work out!