I took advantage of quarantine to try and fix my sleep schedule

April 16, 2020 — by A.M.anda Zhu

Sleep is important. It gives you more energy, improves your immune system, keeps you alive, blah blah blah. But what if you have something extremely important to do at 4 a.m., such as finishing your English paper (or finishing the next episode of “The Office”)? For me, the obvious choice is definitely not getting a good night’s sleep. 

Since sophomore year, my sleep schedule has been pretty unhealthy. During school nights, I typically sleep at around 3 a.m. and wake up at 7:20 a.m. My friends have been telling me for years that I should get more sleep and that coffee and Red Bulls are not sustainable long-term replacements. 

I get it, I have a problem. So I decided to take advantage of the COVID-19-induced break and try to fix my sleeping habits, once and for all. 

Because my body was already used to going to bed in the early hours of the morning, it was impossible for me to sleep before 3 a.m. Although I got into bed at around 1 a.m. every night, I ended up spending hours reading books and browsing Instagram, Snapchat and, admittedly, TikTok. 

Then, the one week of break was over, and online school officially began, which meant that I could no longer wake up at noon every day. I began forcing myself to sleep earlier, and although initially it was difficult for my body to get used to, I was able to sleep a little earlier, around 2 a.m. 

However, there were still days where I would not follow this sleep schedule. I don’t blame myself; after all, there were books to read and shows to watch. 

I tried leaving my phone in a different room before I went to bed so that I would not be tempted to use it. In the first few days that I did this, I would lie in bed for what seemed like forever, willing myself to go to sleep. Gradually, I could get myself to sleep earlier and earlier. Now, although I do not consciously feel tired, I am able to sleep as early as 12:30 a.m. 

I will admit, it has felt good being able to sleep for 11 hours straight. But at a certain point, the amount of sleep I get just does not seem to register in my body anymore. To be honest, I do not feel a major difference between sleeping from 12:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 3:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

Recently, I’ve been tempted to rewatch the TV show “Friends.” I’ve been doing my best to resist the urge because I know it would result in my binge watching for hours at a time, which would threaten my new and improved sleep schedule. 

On the other hand, if the opportunity presents itself, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I indulged myself a bit. After all, I could always just get my energy from somewhere else (instant coffee)... right?


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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.


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