Jessai Flores

In high school, my AP Psychology teacher taught me I needed a solid eight hours of sleep a night, barring disaster. What Ms. Sand didn’t realize was that her very class was itself a factor in my sleep deprivation. With homework and other tasks ending at 2 a.m. and having to get up at 6 a.m. for school, I’ve maintained an extreme sleep schedule since sophomore year of high school. I go to school on four hours of sleep per night. 

In that class, I learned sleep deprivation is linked to low immunity and mood changes. However, I’d like to think I haven’t fallen victim to these unfortunate side effects, aside from the inevitable mid-day sleepiness. My high school sleep schedule primed me for Yale; I evolved during those formidable years. Now, going to sleep at 5 a.m. is normal, as is proceeding to say hi to the surprised Silliman dining hall employees who spot me, bleary-eyed, on their way into work.

With all this said, I couldn’t embark on my nightly journeys without my trustworthy companion: Celsius energy drinks. For whatever reputation energy drinks have, I always include them in my daily gratitude journal. Caffeine is God and I worship the Peach Mango Green Tea Celsius.

I’ve tried to convert to coffee but didn’t have enough faith in it. I already was skeptical of the difference in milligrams of caffeine. An average cup of coffee has 100 milligrams of caffeine, while a 12-ounce can of Celcius has 200. Coffee gives me the breath of a 40 year-old librarian and I can never find the perfect combination of cream and sugar. Coupled with the pretentiousness of coffee connoisseurs who would judge me for ordering a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, espresso shots and lattes don’t give me the burst of satisfaction that Celsius does.

My schedule may seem insane and a bit excessive to some. Others may argue that procrastination gets the best of me. But I see the situation differently. I could work between my classes, or get up earlier in the morning to do readings, but the eerie light coming through the Humanities Quadrangle windows or the claustrophobic Bass Library study cubicles create the best environments for me. In these rooms, I carve out space for myself, away from noisy notifications, the stress of finding a seat in libraries and the distraction of people-watching. However, I also stress myself out, with good reason. Working through assignments due the next day, these high-intensity, pressure-driven study spaces make me determined to finish my work before 5 a.m. (and I always do!). Most nights, I finish right at 2 a.m., motivated by the fact that I’ll soon be asked to leave Bass.

I will say that my goal wasn’t always to finish my problem sets before the sun rises. My junior summer of high school, I was captivated by the promises of a Pinterest aesthetic morning routine. I went to sleep at 10 p.m. and woke up at 7 a.m. This lasted a total of two weeks before I decided to regress into my comforting night-owl habits. During that short spurt of early mornings, I dreaded waking up even though I knew I slept more than the recommended eight hours. In fact, I was much more sleepy than if I had followed my usual routine. It seemed like my usual sleep cycle had made me incompatible with an early start to my day.

Yale didn’t exactly change my sleep patterns. Instead, it validated them. As I bond with students I recognize coming out of Bass or random HQ classrooms, I take comfort in knowing there’s someone out there who is more sleep deprived than me (a shout out to a particular Electrical Engineering major: you know who you are). And though it may seem like I have no rules when it comes to sleep, know that I do. I consider it a triumph that the creeping need to pull an all-nighter hasn’t caught up to me yet. Until it does, I’ll continue to hold myself to my four hours, even if they begin at 5 a.m.

Karla Cortes covers International Relations at Yale under the University Desk. She is a first-year in Silliman College majoring in Political Science.