A lot of people ask me, “How do you sleep at night?” and I tell them, “Certainly not by mulling over my past transgressions. Irreparable damage is a daytime thing, and sleeping tight is my only nighttime consideration.” If you are instead asking about the quality of my sleep, it is just fine, but probably like you, I’m always looking for ways to improve it.
Everybody has to sleep. Most nights, you, Anderson Cooper and 50 Cent are all sleeping at the same time, usually in different rooms. People sleep in a variety of ways and on a variety of surfaces: some in bunk beds, in the grass, in a short bed, in a tall bed, maybe even in a four-person bed like Grandpa Joe did in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
In my journey to potentially improve your sleep, I would first like you to consider your environment. If you’re having trouble sleeping, making changes to the things around you can really help. A great first step might be hanging up photos of other people sleeping on the walls of your room to create a good sleep culture, and with the magic of stock images, these don’t even have to be photos that you’ve taken yourself. Additionally, you could put a sign on your door that says, “People sleep here.”
Roommates are a big part of your sleep environment, if you have them. Both of my roommates last year would occasionally talk in their sleep, to the extent that one night it sounded like they were having a fun dream together and purposefully excluding me. If this ever happens to you, I recommend just responding to whatever it is they are sleep-muttering as if you were part of the conversation the whole time. Naturally, sleep will soon overtake you.
Another environmental factor can be a certain kind of ’station—no, not a train station, but an infestation. Based on conversations with friends and overheard bathroom banter, I’m convinced that every dorm room on the second floor of Main, including mine, has inhabited a mouse for some period of time this semester. I can only assume that a certain mouse-themed article from the Humor section last semester may have cursed this to happen. I remember the first night that I heard a mouse rustling. That night, I had three consecutive mouse dreams followed by an interlude where I was at a nice science museum (fun) and then three more consecutive mouse dreams.
To avoid having such copious mouse dreams, I recommend tapping into your imagination before falling asleep. The magic of being in the dark is that you can always pretend that you’re not in a room with something you don’t want to be. You could instead pretend the various scratching noises that you hear at night are coming from a friendly horse that you live with and who occasionally says funny one liners.
Maybe, after adhering to these environmental pointers, you’re still awake after your expected time of dozing. Worry not, for there are plenty of ways to stimulate your brain into slumber.
As my mother once taught me, counting down from a hundred can be a great brain game in a time of sleeplessness, but it is also a dreadfully boring one. I recommend instead ranking all the professors you’ve had, in descending order, by standing long jump abilities. Chances are you’ve never seen any of them do such a jump (or any jump, probably). Additionally, there aren’t many professorial long jump competitions that have ever occurred, and most professors at Vassar haven’t put up numbers at the NFL combine, so you’re going to have to rank your professors purely based on intuition. To help with this, I recommend visualizing each professor standing on the tape line and doing the jump, projecting where they would likely land along a tape measure, marking from the heel of the foot farthest back. If you’re having trouble creating your rankings, I recommend going to a professor’s office hours with a tape measure and asking them to perform. The distance they score can serve as a good baseline for ranking professors with similar attributes.
Did that work? No? Well, darn, I guess I’m out of ideas. Not sleeping at night is always an option (one dude stayed up for 11 days, look it up). Once in a while, it can be fun to walk into a classroom the next morning knowing you will be woefully unqualified to contribute anything of use or coherence. The magic of sleep is that you can always try again the next night. You, me, Anderson Cooper, 50 Cent and everybody else typically residing in the Eastern Time Zone are all in this together, trying our best to sleep as fair as a bear with a prayer (down by the bay), or whatever the saying is.