Travis Hensley" />
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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Life + Arts

Staying up all night has become an art form

As of this writing, I’ve been up for 36 hours. If the final product resembles complete sentences, know that I had very little to do with that; the nice people at the copy editing desk have gotten used to some of my exhaustion-induced mistakes.

Like most college students, I’ve come to know this sleep well — too well, really — and it has begun messing with my memory. Did you know that a life and arts editor has to assign stories to writers if they don’t want put together something about staying up all night in Monday’s paper?

Because my school work has been spiraling downhill faster than the realization that “Mortal Kombat” is an overrated movie.

I’ve decided to give up on all-nighters, but before I want to share with fellow students how to play amateur mad scientist, the way I have been for the past five years.

To do this you’re going to have to learn about the Circadian rhythm and the US military. Not following? Bear with me.

Well, not so much the military as what they did to test fatigue in pilots. A great place to start is in the paper “Fatigue and Its Effects on Performance in Military Environments” by N.L Miller, P. Matsangas and L.G Shattuck. There are also some good articles in the journal of Biological Rhythms about this, but basically what it boils down to is that there are certain times in a 24-hour period when you get tired.

This means that although it may feel like a constant struggle, there are really only few times during the day that you have to fight in order to pull off an all-nighter.

The first two are simple enough; the time you normally fall asleep and the time you normally wake up? The second two are a little trickier, because you have to be awake all night to get a good idea of when they are. A test run of sorts is necessary.

I usually go to sleep around 1 a.m. and wake up around 9 a.m. If I’ve been up all night, I get tired at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is probably different from my actual rhythm because, even on nights I get sleep, I dump enough coffee into my system to give a weaker man the shakes.

Usually, I’ll watch a movie from Netflix (which is where the “Mortal Kombat” joke came from — yes, folks, we’ve come full circle) and for some strange reason, I usually choose cheesy martial arts movies, which give me an additional kick for the night. And the plots are sophomoric enough to allow me to focus on my school work, though I rarely do that.

After the movie, I usually shave. The cold water I splash in my face after further awakens me.

During the night, things like sugar and caffeine are your enemies. After they wear off, I always get this idea in my head that I will wake up earlier than usual and finish before I head to school. But this is a lie, and I’ve overslept plenty of 8 a.m. classes because of it. Didn’t I mention I’ve been in college for five years? Yeah.

Once I’ve made it through the night, it won’t be until 10 or so that I start to crash. So I’ll drink a cup… I mean, a pot of coffee for every hour that I want to be up and a Red Bull or two when I feel really tired.

I don’t want to this for the rest of my life, but it seems inevitable until I graduate college, which I hope happens soon.


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