I lean against the smooth shower tiles and let the hot water massage my sore muscles. I have been working out more than usual. My proactive mind struggles to rise above the emotional residue of some nonsensical dream that woke me at 4 am. When I shut of the shower, I can hear the rain outside tapping against the window. When I get back to my room, I wonder if I should go to the coffee shop where I know I will be productive or just lay back down and try to steal another hour’s sleep?
An hour and a half later, I wake up feeling rested. I won’t have that luxury when fall semester starts. In the fall, I will be teaching classes at 7 am, so I can get to my second job by 10 am. In the afternoon, I will pick up my 12-year-old daughter and help her with her homework. My evenings will be filled with grading student work and creating lesson plans. I’ll get about 6 or 7 hours sleep and start over again the next day.
I read biographies by successful people who champion the cause of getting enough sleep. They admit, that they once burned the candle at both ends themselves, but they have come to see the light. Of course, it is easier to have an epiphany about the value of sleep when you are actually in a position to act on it.
For many of us, the only way we can change our position in life is to work harder and longer than the other guy. There is an ongoing debate about minimum wage. While one side argues that no one working for minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment in any of the United States. The rebuttal argument seems to say little more than minimum wage workers have never been able to afford a two-bedroom apartment. (As if social/ethical precedent should be based on historical precedent.)
Many argue that those on minimum wage need to get of thier lazy back sides and learn a trade or get a degree. So, after working overtime to pay for housing, these financially vulnerable people need to raise tuition, find time to attend classes, and study (an effective student should be spending two to three hours of individual study for every hour of class). But hey, don’t forget to get enough sleep.
I am not here to sing the poor me song. I am lucky enough to make more the minimum wage, I already have my master’s degree, but I was once one of those non-traditional college students. I may not be where I want to be financially, but I have come a long way from where I was. Still, I often get less than the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended for adults. Many of my students face the same predicament. Unfortunately, many of them feel alone in the struggle because they hear experts, usually people with political and economic capital, touting the necessity of sleep as though not sleeping was simply a poor choice they were making.
I look forward to the day when I can afford a mortgage that is less than 30% of my total income. Until that day, I will hustle, and I salute those hustling with me. Want to grab a coffee?