On Wednesday mornings, I go to the library to print out assignments for class, and without fail, there is always someone asleep in a booth on the second floor. There are often people curled up in sleeping bags, presumably trying to get in a few last minutes of sleep before class after pulling an all-nighter.
I understand the drive and pressure to stay up all night to keep working, but prioritizing sleep is essential for good mental and physical wellness. With all the work that we are assigned as college students, it is hard to imagine how everything will get done if we do not work around the clock. When there is a huge exam or a final project the next day, we often calculate how long we can stay up working, powering through exhaustion to maximize our time, but staying up all night affects our quality of work and leaves us exhausted the next day.
Because the library is open for 24 hours a day, it becomes a place for students to go in order to work 24/7 nonstop. This is seen as a selling point to incoming students; however, keeping the library open 24 hours promotes the idea that students should and need to abandon healthy sleep schedules in order to succeed. Keeping the library open all night continues to foster an environment where success, prestige and grades take precedence far above balance and personal health (mental or otherwise). The effects of this can be seen when students boast about how little sleep they got. Just as it is seen as a problem to spend the night in the office in the corporate world, it should be recognized as a problem when your students are bringing sleeping bags to the library with them just to keep working. In a world where prioritizing proper health is already a struggle, supported policy should help encourage healthy balance instead of hindering it. It is difficult enough when everyone around you says that school should consume your entire life without the campus policy promoting that as well.
The solution for this issue is two-fold. Firstly, I think the institute should abandon the policy that the library is 24/7 in favor of being open from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., except during finals week when it could be 24 hours. This leaves only a three-hour window where the library would be closed, but students could really benefit from being forced to go home for at least a few hours. This does not mean they are going to sleep, but it is at least a friendly reminder that sleep is important and that a few hours is better than none. Most importantly, it promotes the idea that school should not come before any aspect of your health, and that on some level, Tech actively wants its students to prioritize healthy sleep patterns.
The second solution is that students need to take some responsibility for their own healthy habits. Closing the library for a few hours each night helps to encourage healthy habits, but it does not mean that students have to follow healthy habits themselves. Getting a good night of sleep benefits you and everyone around you, but you have to choose to prioritize your health in order for any changes to be made. If we as students are going to push for greater changes in the attitude towards health, it has to begin with us making these choices for ourselves.