Go the fuck to sleep

You’ll thank yourself in the morning.


To begin with a fairly uncontroversial statement, sleep is brilliant. 

Studies show that people who get the proper amount of sleep have better memories, they are more creative, they’re healthier, more athletic, smarter and happier. Hell, they even live longer.

But you’ve probably realised, dear freshers, that in Cambridge sleep is a precious and rare commodity, akin to gold dust or a lecturer that gives out decent handouts. Being the sort of person that cannot function without my eight hours, I place a tremendous amount of value on a good night’s sleep. I was always the first to fall asleep at sleepovers, I often make excuses to leave parties early so I can go home and catch some shut eye and if it’s past midnight and I’m in a club, I guarantee you that I have turned into a snoring pumpkin in the ladies room. I’m basically the Hulk, but instead of always being angry, I am always ready to sleep.

But I know not every Cantab is similarly blessed with this superpower. I’ve seen you all walking around like zombies, fighting off exhaustion and desperately trying to pry open your heavy eyelids. I am here to tell you all that there is another way to live, a happier way, a more well-rested way, if you just follow these tips and go the fuck to sleep.

DO get into a routine

The mistake a lot of people make when it comes to getting to sleep is that they try to go straight from complex equations/syntax trees/Ancient Greek translations into the Land of Nod. That’s not gonna happen. After hours of work your brain is confused and frightened, like a small bird. You must gently coax it from work mode to sleep mode, not just fling it out of the nest before it’s ready and expect it to fly off to dreamland.

Try to stop working around the same time every night, play some soothing music or read something entirely unrelated to your course. If none of this works, I find that reading the minutes from the latest CUSU council puts me straight to sleep. A relaxing routine helps to regulate your body clock and improves the quality of your sleep, so when everyone else is bleary-eyed in that 9am lecture, you’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every time.

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A rare photograph of a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed student after eight hours of sleep

DON’T pull all-nighters

This is literally the worst idea ever. I’ve pulled one all-nighter in my whole life and it was enough to make me resolve to never have to do one again. They are not necessary and they are bad for you. Overall your grades, your memory and your physical health will be worse than if you just did your work during the day like a normal person rather than by the light of the full moon like some sort of academic werewolf.

I’ve had some people tell me that they simply can’t get work done until they have the adrenaline of a looming deadline and the buzz of six cups of coffee coursing through their veins. To those people, I say sort your bloody life out. If the only time you have for work is in the wee hours of the morning then there is something fundamentally wrong with the way you’re scheduling your day and you need to re-evaluate your priorities.

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Hint: You should be prioritising sleep

DO take a nap if you need one

Sometimes it all goes wrong and for whatever reason, you’re nodding off in your afternoon supervisions. This is the time to bust out the naps. I don’t just mean any naps, I mean power naps. Tell your work to bugger off for ninety minutes, burrow down under that duvet and recharge your batteries. Then, once your alarm goes off, you spring into action with the vigour of a thousand labrador puppies.

This is way more effective than trying to soldier on and get your work done even though you’re currently hallucinating that your library books are a pillow. You’ll be a hundred times more effective after your nap and you’ll feel two hundred times better. Or if you lack the free time, just do what I do and sleep every time your friends are watching a boring sporting event.

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Warning: Your ‘friends’ may draw on you while you’re napping through their country’s sporting events

DON’T be competitive about how sleep deprived you are

To me, this is by far the weirdest thing about Cambridge. Everyone goes around constantly one-upping each other about who’s the most exhausted. We’ve all witnessed a similar exchange. “Oh, you drank a load of Red Bull and stayed up til 3am working and now you’re tired? Well I stayed up til 5am for the last three nights so that I could get my essay finished and get a head start on my reading.”

These people are idiots and are to be pitied. Sleep deprivation is literally considered torture. If you went home at night and casually used thumb screws on yourself, you would not be bragging about it in lectures the next day. So if you’re the person who’s going around bragging about all those all-nighters you pull, save yourself the embarrassment and stop now, because you’re making a tit of yourself.

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The people running Guantanamo Bay also don’t think sleep deprivation is that bad, don’t be like these guys

And so my dear freshers, tonight I urge you to tell your essay to sod off and put yourself and your wellbeing first. Make yourself some warm milk, put on your favourite PJs, ready your hot water bottle and slip into peaceful slumber. Dream sweet dreams and wake up tomorrow ready to start the revolution of healthy sleep habits.

And if you won’t listen to me, at least listen to Samuel L. Jackson.