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No-sleep ninjas

Nicole Michels | Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To the night owls out there: Hello from one of your own. I’m writing at our prime time: Those wee hours of the morning after parietals and the closure of the library, when we congregate in those few campus locations still open, when it’s a struggle to decide whether or not it’s tomorrow yet.

During exam week, when everyone else moans and groans about all the work they have to do and how late they stay up to finish it, we smile snidely. We laugh at the uninitiated, the twice-a-semester library-goers who appear out of the woodwork exactly like those Catholics who go to Mass only on Christmas and Easter. We’re used to it — late nights merging into mornings are nothing new for us.

But still, we do need to sleep occasionally. Last week, however, I completed one of college’s rites of passage: My first all-nighter. Even for the night owls, this is no mean feat, but I persevered. Facilitated by a continuous stream of Diet Coke and two 20-minute naps, I finished writing an essay that had slipped through the cracks earlier that week.

Pulling the information that I needed from the readings was a time-consuming process, as was editing the paper to fit the repressively small page limit.

Accompanying me on my journey was a sampling of the usual assortment of late-night study crowd. Procrastinators, no-sleep ninjas, students sleeping in uncomfortable positions, students working at their jobs and other students in various stages of panic about their work.

This Mecca of late night activity is within our very own LaFortune Student Center, specifically the building’s East Lounge. The perfect place for a late night of studying because of the close proximity to caffeine and sugar, the East Lounge manages to be close to yet removed from the building’s general ruckus.

As the night progressed, the room emptied out slightly. The regular crowd went home to crawl into bed, but while exhausted, a few of us soldiered on. Of my companions, I was most confused by the uncomfortable sleepers. If you’re going to sleep, why not go to your own bed? There were three of them over the course of the night who curled up in equally weird positions to catch some shut-eye. One of them slept for four hours stretched in between two chairs. He woke up eventually, only to sit down and work for about 20 minutes before leaving. You, sir, probably should have gone home long before that.

Eventually, I finished my essay. Overjoyed, I printed it out and was shocked to see the same 10 students who had been in the computer lab 12 hours earlier. While I was yawning like crazy, these no-sleep ninjas appeared not to need sleep. They barely looked up as I passed, hammering away on their keyboards like they had just gotten a full ten hours of rest.

Later that day, I passed one of the people who had been working in the East Lounge with me the night before. Eyes bleary, we awkwardly smiled at each other while we trudged to class, an unspoken acknowledgment of the solidarity between those who needed to work late.

Now that it’s midterms week, other people pop up in our sanctuaries, frantically finishing assignments next to the late night veterans. Newbies, good luck. Maybe if you ask nicely we’ll share our secret study spots with you.

Contact Nicole Michels at nmichels@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.