Don’t overwork yourself

By Thomas Block, Columnist

Waking up in the morning isn’t fun. It’s even less so when you’re coming off three hours of sleep. I’d like to think the piercing headache you get in that instance is your brain trying to tell you something.

For some, overworking oneself may bring about a sense of fulfillment, even pride. “I studied more than anybody else last night, and I have these bags under my eyes to show for it,” (or something like that). Don’t go thinking you can trade in your health for self-validation. I shouldn’t need to remind you about the importance of sleep, which by now has been glorified by mounds of research. The urgency is understandable — studies show the average college student gets about two hours of sleep less than the recommended amount per night.

Why only now, then, do I denounce the dreaded “all-nighter?” This is because I speak from experience (as I can only do). Reader, I stayed up so late last night working on a lab report that after waking up in confusion this morning, it took me a full minute to process the fact I was not lying in my childhood bed and had been, in fact, attending college for two years. I’d recommend that you (and I) no longer pull that stunt.

It is not your fault for feeling swamped with responsibilities, many of which can spill over into your social and personal life just as easily as it can shift your sleep patterns. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note the busiest people aren’t necessarily the most professionally or even academically successful. There’s a point where working can start to do more harm than good.

Of course, if you’re a student, there are always tips you can try out to study smarter rather than harder. Don’t do every problem but rather one of every kind of problem. Reward yourself with short, periodic breaks. Keep the productive hours of your day separate from your social ones and study alone. The more focused and diligent you are, the more likely you are to meet your daily goals before sundown.

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Ultimately, however, you’ll need the ability to make compromises and release yourself from excessive burdens. You will always be allowed, even encouraged, to push your intellectual and creative limits. You can’t, however, cut corners when it comes to health. If you ever feel tired, disoriented or sad, stop what you’re doing and take time off for yourself. Success shouldn’t be measured by the amount of work you finish before dropping to the floor; it should be measured by the amount of work you finish while still feeling enough like yourself to own it.

Thomas is a sophomore in Engineering.

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