I should probably preface with: My life thus far has been very stable and, by both global and national standards, very easy.
With that said, it’s been a difficult couple of weeks.
I finally got the opportunity to do fieldwork for my thesis, and had 3 weeks to complete it in. This coincided with the deadline for finals, and also with the dates for cleaning and moving into a new apartment.
I was also hired on to do some research for my department, and did background reading and conducted 8 interviews. Annnnd I get to speak at a conference, which I will never complain about, but it involves a lot of prep work and is a little stressful. Nope, nope, one more, I forgot momentarily that the draft of my thesis is due 22 days after I finished my data collection. Three weeks to read through, categorize, analyze and write about my findings. It’s 320 pages of curriculum analysis and 98 pages of notes over 30 hours of observations and interviews.
I really have been very busy.
My daily schedule suddenly became:
7:04-Take the bus to fieldwork site
7:55-Arrive at fieldwork site
1:49/2:04-Take bus from fieldwork placement
3/3:30-Break for lunch
4:00-Study on campus
7:30-Break for dinner
8:15-Study at home
10:45/11:30-Go to Sleep
12:45-Be awoken by roommates on the 3rd floor shouting and moving chairs
2/2:30/3-Be awoken by partying students returning home from downtown
5:00-Be awoken by person who lives below me smoking pot in their room
*Note: The interruptions after midnight sometimes vary. They include anything from the guy who lives above me lifting weights and jumping rope (usually 2am), drunken students returning home (midnight to 5am), sad heavy-metal music parties hosted by one of the roommates (8-15 people), Helgi who plays guitar on the 3rd floor (usually not too late), THE POT SMOKING GIRL I HATE (anywhere between 2-5 am, 5-6 nights a week). There are many fun noise interruptions in the night at student housing.
This led to a week of firsts.
For the first time, I fell asleep on the bus. I didn’t wake up for several minutes, and had to stand because I was afraid I would miss my stop.
The last day of my observations, I didn’t quite fall asleep, but I sat there in a stupor on the bus and didn’t realize I’d missed my transfer until 8 stops later. I had to wait until the bus went to the end of the line and took me back to the transfer station in order to catch the next bus. I was half an hour late for the first of my interviews, and it was not impressive.
By week two I cried in Háma, the student cafeteria. I was trying to edit a peer paper and I couldn’t think, my forehead felt hot, and the world seemed overly bright and a little fuzzy. A friend asked if I was feeling alright, and I couldn’t manage to say “I’m just so tired!” without starting to cry. She sent me home for a nap.
I accumulated 5 weeks worth of laundry. Who even knew I had that many clothes?!? I re-wore quite a few of the same things, and had very unattractive and ill fitting outfits for the last week and a half, but 5 weeks it was.
Lastly, I had a headache right behind my eyes, and what felt like a low grade fever for 6 day running. I was quite emotional, and had little or no concentration.
I know some people survive on less than 8 hours of sleep, but I have a routine and am very happy with 9. I generally wake up once in the night, and then again at the 9 hour mark. If I’m sick I sleep a little more, and if I get lots of exercise and in the summer, I sleep a little less. Nothing less that 8.5 hours will do. I also really hate naps, but I think I do them wrong and sleep a little too long, because I wake up groggy and cranky. That’s all there is to it really, I’m not about to argue with biology.
I think this is the first time I’ve experienced three weeks worth of sleep deprivation, and I couldn’t manage much. If my field placement hadn’t given me lunch I never would have made it, and I don’t know what to do for the future. I spend a lot of time sleeping, but am very productive when I get up, so what will I do when work calls for more than I can give, or children show up to ruin every peaceful night’s sleep for the rest of my life?
The conclusion? Lack of sleep nearly made my life fall apart, I never enjoy crying in public, and I don’t want to do this ever again.
It’s an unlikely goal.