• Wenee Yap

Sleeping like a Law Student


Law students are famous for never sleeping enough (if at all).

You know the feeling. Semester begins with all the optimism of Julie Andrews’ Maria frolicking up verdant Austrian mountains simply to declare that the hills are, indeed, alive. With her particular fervor (read: willful, doomed naivety) we take our start of semester vows: this semester, I shalt be fit, balanced, brilliantly prepared, and excel in all things extra-curricular.

The disasters of last semester’s sky-high aspirations will not be repeated. Why? For I shall be sensible this time: I shall sleep eight to ten hours every night.

Famous last words.

You know the story already, and it always ends in donuts and tears. So how can you avoid such a fate? By watching for the early warning signs, as scientifically identified by and rigorously tested on law students…

1. Difficulty Concentrating in Class

Severe sleep deprivation may induce any of the following expressions:

  • Glazed eyed interest (“I’m trying very hard to take in this lecture despite my two or so hours of sleep, while faintly panicking at failure to understand anything in this lecture. Perhaps if I look mildly interested…”)

  • The slow blink (“If I have a micro nap every time I blink today that’ll be enough to keep me going”)

  • Or, the most telling expression…REM (face first, on the desk, fast asleep. While somehow still taking notes of said lecture.)

2. Unexplained memory loss

A law student on less than three hours of sleep a night for more than a week may be given to forgetting where they are, who they are, the day of the week, the month of the year, and in fact, the year. Essentially, it’s the Bourne Identity with less CIA spies and more losing of keys, accidental deletion of lecture notes and eleventh hour essays (ten minutes before the submission deadline), and periodic amnesia of such minor details as name, address, family members and loved ones.

3. Slowed cranial function

In other words, your mind moves at a glacial pace. A glacier frozen on an ice planet not unlike Hoth.

4. Irrational fear of falling sleep

Sleep results in prolonged periods of non-productivity. But because essays are due and exams are imminent, sleep is clearly the enemy. After all, you can sleep when you’re dead. Then you wonder: if you died, would you still need to complete this essay? Yes. Yes you would. And so, you cannot sleep.

It’s quite an affliction, not sleeping. The cure, you may have heard from old wives or the medically qualified, could be, in fact, sleeping more. Or at all. (Or it could be NoDoz. Certainly the coffee stopped keeping your eyes open hours ago.)

Likelihood of implementing said cure? Less than 1%.

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