Monday, April 24, 2006

The struggle for wakefulness

In college, staying up all night to study for finals was a breeze. Me and whichever friend was down for studying would pick up 2-3 ice cold Frappuchinos and sneak up to the 24/7 Blue Room. Medical students were the only ones worthy of studying in these gallowed halls which were really was just a drab, depressing square of a room. But it was silent as compared to the undergrad library, simply a place to socialize and make new friends. Though the blue room was only for medical students my desi status left the MD status presumed. We heard legends of campus police coming to inspect ID's and kick intruders out, infact I swear just like I may have seen bigfoot, I think I saw a girl once pack up her bags and whimper as she was escorted out of the blue room trailed by two officers, to this day it bewilders my common sense, as with the rampant underage drinking on campus, they felt their resources better suited to find the bandit kids yearning to study in a quiet library? Beuarocracy at its finest. If the blue room seemed too risky, we'd tone down our Mission Impossible mindset and head to Denny's where the waiters for some unexplainable reason always gave us free unlimited coffee and occassional icecreams.

No matter what, when we needed to, we stayed up through the night, pause every so often for a comparative gripe, study some more. So when law school began I had no doubt what was to come. the late night studying, the coffee pot on auto. And yet. Its not happening. Come 11pm my eyes start shutting, my mind getting foggy and I want nothing more than to crawl into bed.

I thought Coffee would be my savior allowing me back to my sleepless yet studious nights. But Coffee makes me jittery and morphs me into a person I scarcely recognize. Not that I've ever been drunk but I feel like I can relate to the morning after regret from my jittery oober hyper state of mind. It's amusing- so I'm told. Once as a teacher high on coffee at a staff meeting, every time the principal requested a volunteer my hand shot up with an eager grin "Stay afterschool to sort files? Redo all the bulletin boards on the fifth grade wing? " Super! This became a habit as I'd stop and get the brewing coffee on my way to the staff meetings until Kate intervened diverting me from the teacher's lounge to ensure my sobriety at the meetings knowing full well that high on coffee one day, the next day I'd look bewildered at all the assignments strewn across my desk with just the slightest foggy recollection that it was all my own doing. I guess my point is Coffee don't particularly care for me, nor I it. But I drink it cuz it works and when it works I'm typing at 100 words a minute, reading 40 pages an hour, cooking dinner and straightening my hair all at the same time (allright I sorta stretched it there with the hair straightening- that requires absolute concentration ofcourse) And then I crash. And tis a long way down I tell ye. Long. Long. Long. Way down.

Tea is better as far as jittery-ness goes since years of drinking it leaves it with just the slighest effect. But even with chai I can't shake the tiredness. Friday I think I drank approximately 1.5 gallons of tea at Cafe Istanbul. Mustafa the owner kept pouring more despite protests, "Come on! Drink it!" pouring more and pushing it my way. I'm a sucker for peer pressure of the chai sort. You'd think 1.5 gallon (give or take) would make me high as a kite yet ten minutes later I was leaning on Kashif feeling more drowsy than before.

Tonight again I sit here, my book before me, my fingers poised on the laptop I want nothing more than to go to sleep. Where did old Aisha go? or is the new old Aisha the problem? What happened to the studying all night? Is it lack of friends sharing a common goal? The lack of rush from rebelliously studying in the blue room? Or that the only other person who lives in this house is fast asleep upstairs under the covers and the sleepy aura of the home affects me. Who knows... back to them books *sigh*


Anonymous said...

If you fight through wanting to sleep for a little while you will get over it and study longer. Thats what i do.

Anonymous said...

Salams Aisha,
I am a full-time 1L and exams start this Friday for me. I stumbled upon your blog recently when I was running a search for law students/exams and so on. I also experience this "struggle for wakefulness." I have a hard time staying up late studying, unlike high school and undergrad. I think that now life is so much more demanding and tiring - we just don't have the energy to stay up at night. Anyways, good luck with studying. I plan on coming back to your blog often. I am also a Muslim woman who is married and have found that we have a lot in common!

Anonymous said...

You are getting old. But some tips...use tea not coffee and do physical exercise when you get really sleepy.

Anonymous said...

I don't think its because she's getting old. I am in my very early 20s but law school has done the same thing to me.

Enyur said...

Wow! That brought back a lot of memories for me too (I miss my univ days now!). I for one believe that coffee never works when you need it to i.e. exam time! Anyway, I find myself falling asleep reading 'policies' sometimes...oh it so dry!

Anyway, usually when we find ourselves falling asleep it's because there isn't enough oxygen going to your brain. So...what I do is look away from what I'm reading, and take a really deep breath (while standing) and then slowly exhale. What happens is that you've now got some oxygen flowing to your brain! (Magic! lol!). Try works for me (unfortunately, it's temporary).

mezba said...

Wow this brings back my univ days (I hate saying that). We had a room called the Pink Room (I swear, it got its name from the color of the walls). It was the haunt of us CS students, and I remember driving to the nearest Tim Hortons (Canada's Dunkin Donuts equivalent), getting a tray full of coffee-beverages for our group and studying the night away.

For some reason it was always better to study in groups, and all our our gang would show up to univ just to study before exams. Nowadays, I find it tough to sit through an India-Pakistan cricket match that is playing when its night here - theoretically something I should enjoy.

rehtwo said...


Aisha said...

Wow! Lots of anonymous comments, thanks for those who left names :-)

Ali- who you callin old? ahem, yes I guess I am that...physical exercise isn't possible at midnight when Kashif is sleeping in bed. I mean he's very supportive of my education but I think it would disturb his sleep if I decided to run on the treadmill right next to him? ;-)

Rasha, Salaam and welcome! :-) Yeah I think in undergrad/high school we only have one priority but when you're older and get married etc there's a lot of other stuff in the back of your mind that can leave you feeling drained. That's awesome that you're in law school as well. What a coincidence you should find this blog as a fellow married muslim woman in law school. Hope your studying is going well too!

Enyur- you are the answer to all my internet related issues and my sleep issues. Oxygen. DUH! :) I've been doing that and it could all be in my head abut its helping. Its 12:18 and I'm awake! Thanks :)

Mezba- yeah, when one says ''ah that brings me back to the colege day'' makes it sound like it was eons ago.. and that's juts plain depressing :) Pink room huh?? Ours was blue room for its color as well :) Yeah I really do believ that group studying is good b/c as you begin to doze off you see someone working hard and you pull yourself together.

Rehtwo- yes. Just a few more hours :) Btw- I think of you in these late hours considering all I learned about sleep from you! :)

mystic-soul said...

It is written so well, I can smell coffee from your post tonight.....sach.

Very nicely written a topic of common day life.

mystic-soul said...

and it was hard to have no blog from you for 5 days.

Minka said...

Oh aisha, how I know that feeling.
I was one of the few that enjoyed exam periods filled with studying. You met up with your friends and socialized as well. An all nighter was even kinda fun. While I was reading I could never fall asleep.
Now I go to bed at 10 in the evening with the best intention of reading a lovely book and on page 32 I am off to the land where logic does not apply!
Maybe it is a thing about getting older? Do we really wanna go there'

Bongi-Amma said...

awww sweetheart!! I totally know the feeling! I used to be able to pull all nighters back in the first 2 years, but since the 3rd year i can barely stay up beyond midnight to study. Im only 22 but i feel like a 122 sometimes! For what its worth here is what i usually do and it mostly works.

1) Sleep whenever my body tells me to, 1 hour power naps are grrrrreat! :) I always find after one of those, i can do 5 hours work in 1.

2) Sleep on time. No matter how little work i have done that day, it is not worth messing up work the next.

3) I completely totally and utterly cut out caffeine from my life. It makes me jittery and restless and i can't sleep very well at all. This is the BEST thing that i have ever done in my life, i would recommend it to everyone. It really makes such a huge difference.

4) Like someone said above, if you really need to work, work through the sleepy period and you come out the other side a champion, wide eyed and alert. Its hard to do, i have only managed it about 4 times in my life, if that. I do love my sleep! :)

5) Skipping through the sleepy periods really wakes you up :) As in with a skipping rope.

BBCD said...

It has been too long since i told you that i love you sis! and that i really really wanna adopt you as my big sis!

lol i love your posts! hahah at fraps in uni to keep you going! SNAP! and lol at your foggy brain! its called getting older.

i find these days that sometimes i cant consentrate untill the end of a sentence, or the end of a late night telly programme that im really enjoying, lol god only knows how we studied!! of all things untill late in to the night!

three cheers for "mature" students! lol


Dil-E-Nadaan said...

aww - aisha! This friend is up with you, I promise! Thank God these exams will be over soon. Virtual Hug to you...Pretty soon we will iA enjoy the summer :)

ASH said...

Hang in there. I have discovered that I can no longer burn the midnight oil either. I used to stay awake for 3 days at a stretch and while I would be exhausted I could still function. Now if it is past 2AM I am having serious problems.

Raheel said...

I want coffee!!

btw it makes me sleepy :p

opinionatedinjerzee said...

hope you get some sleep soon!!!!

Aisha said...

Mystic, thanks :0) Glad you enjoyed it.

Minka glad you can relate, and yes I completely agree with you, about the age thing, do we really want to go there? lol. No!

Bongi- thanks for all the advice!!! *GASP* cutting caffeine out of your life!!!!?!! NO CHAI? How as a desi do you manage this dear?

BBCD: haw hai you make me feel like geriatric patient sis!!! :-) since when did 26 become the new 62?? *sniff* thanks for the love bbcd, I'm glad you like reading my posts!!! That made my day :o)

Nermeen, thanks for the encouragement, I will think of you during the 3am low phase :) Btw are yo ugoing to africa?

Ash- Three days. I never could do that!

Raheel- you mean once you get off the coffee high. or coffee doesnt give you a high at all?

Aisha said...

Thanks opin:)

BBCD said...

lol.. im 25, and your 26 thats makes you OLD!!! :P

Anonymous said...

mountain dew and vault work aweomse

Anonymous said...

i was thinking...for these past 2 years of med school, I've only twice NOT pulled an all-nighter. One of those wasn't intentional. I don't think you have this option, but what helped me most was studying the late hours somewhere other than my room. It makes a difference. You are too comfortable in your house.

Enyur said...

Awww....thanks...maybe I should find a career in giving advice lol! Well, anyway I'm glad it helped :o)

Bongi-Amma said...

lol my parents never let me drink chai as a kid, so i never really tried it. It used to be "bemaar drink" the stuff u'd dip your bread in when you were ill. Since i started drinking coffee....ahem got obsessed with starbux, i started sleepin really badly. Hence i cut out coke, coffee and tea. *sobs* its difficult sometimes, i do treat myself in holidays tho, mweheheh!

momyblogR said...

Yeah, it's funny how things change. You crack me up with the coffee....I LOVE coffee and I can't say it effects my like you, lol! AND, drinking 1.5 gallons of tea would have my beating a path to the restroom....I could forget about doing anything....nevermind studying. :):)

I think it's the last thing mentioned....Your sweetie is nicely tucked under the covers in dream land and you just know your spot is waiting. I know you can hear it calling all the way downstairs, lol!

Gosh, I don't envy you, but soon it will be over. Hang in there!

Aisha said...

My dear anonymous commentators, welcome and thanks for commenting, do share who you are, inquiring minds want to know! :)

Anon1: vault? What is it? I havent heard of it.

Anon2: You nailed it on the head. I'm too comfortable at home. In college I never studied at home. VERY true. Unfortunately home is the only place I can really study now. I dont live in a college town and things close early. Alas, shall just learn to get over it.

Enyur, not a bad idea you're good at giving advice to me and I know you from such a limited medium, kee patha how good you'll be in real life at being good at advice? :)

Bongi, treatin now and then is nothin bad. Mash'allah you have great willpower to giveit up

Mommyblogr, yeah the tea did a number on me too! lol. I'm a sucker for an insistent look and food infront of me. Can't help it... lol. I agree its knowing he's up there snugled and i'm down here looking at books that make me tired. UGH :( But yes just two more weeks and finito!

EnCloset said...

*peaks in*

Is it over yet?

Zak said...

>>Where did old Aisha go? or is >>the new old Aisha the problem? >>What happened to the studying >>all night?

* cough cough* someones getting old *cough cough* if it's any consolation to you Aisha BBCD sounds older in her posts lol..

Aisha said...

Encloset, hi there, by "it" do you mean studying? not yet, the monday after next it's over, till then *sigh*

Zak, ahem. no. that's not it. ok?!?! *sniff*

Aman said...

I never stayed up all night to study, I guess that explains my crappy grades.

Enyur said...

lol! Thanks, maybe I should look into it then ;)

Tee said...

LOL. I loved the visual of you volunteering for all these projects at the staff meeting. Hilarious. :)

When I was younger I used to stay up all night, no problem. Not studying, but just staying up listening to music, reading, watching TV - whatever... Now I find it difficult to make it to midnight. LOL... We're just old, Aisha ;)

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