Eight a.m. is not most students’ favorite time of day.
It’s painful to have class at that time because it means waking up almost before the sun. It means not being able to stay up too late the night before. It means breakfast alone.
We need as much sleep as possible during these last critical weeks of the semester, but the structure of life at USC doesn’t make it easy for students to get rest.
On weekends, residential dining halls do not open until 10 a.m. The earliest classes begin around the same time most high schools start, while most classes and meetings don’t begin until the late afternoon or evening.
The plethora of 24-hour restaurants in the USC vicinity also encourages students to pay no heed to the time of day.
With all these forces encouraging a nocturnal schedule, it is no surprise students go to sleep later and later.
This behavior, though, is more injurious than helpful, especially for students with academic ambitions, according to Harvard University.
Lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as better academic performance were found in “day scholars” versus those who studied primarily at night. A study conducted by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard confirmed this.
Though we might think it doesn’t matter exactly when a person sleeps as long as he gets a substantial amount of sleep, evidence suggests going to sleep earlier is perhaps even more important than the number of hours of sleep, according to a study by Kyushu University professor Kiyoshi Adachi.
The problem students face, though, is applying those lessons to their lives in a collegiate atmosphere, which is almost tailored to encourage staying up and waking up late.
Given that the majority of students are not early risers (8 a.m. sections usually aren’t the most popular scheduling choices), waking up early by choice has almost become taboo.
The university can make a variety of efforts to help promote an early to bed, early to rise schedule.
By providing many night classes, the university is doing itself, and its students, no favors. What it can do, however, is make a more reasonable schedule more attainable.
The university can take simple steps in the right direction by making sure that the dining halls open earlier on weekends, and that events on McCarthy Quad don’t run past midnight, and even by providing the tools and teaching necessary to instill an urgency about getting not only the right amount of sleep, but at the right time.
Until then, students should attempt to make important changes to their sleep schedules to improve their physical and mental lives.
There are many practical reasons for adapting an earlier rising and sleeping schedule, too.
Waking up early means lines in the dining hall are shorter so less time is spent waiting and more time is spent being productive.
The benefits of an earlier schedule don’t end at eating and studying, though. Early morning schedules are already practiced by many athletes here at USC, and for good reason.
Head football coach Lane Kiffin recently changed spring practices from evenings to early in the morning, a switch he believes benefits players both on and off the field.
A morning workout leaves room for a later workout. Plus, exercise can dispel the initial sleepiness that follows many students to their first classes.
Waking up early is unusual for the average college student, but it brings positive connotations; implying organization, punctuality and commitment, to name a few. These qualities will lead to a more fruitful college career, both academically and personally.
Wake up early and start the day off by reading a good book.
Time is your most valuable resource.
Alan Wong is an undeclared freshman.