It’s a label that’s been stuck to my back since I can remember. Parents, friends, coaches, teachers, my dog, they’ve all given me the look of disgust as I roll out of bed at noon with romantic thoughts of a mid-afternoon siesta dancing in my head. But before you accuse me too, let’s get something straight.
This column was supposed to be about my adventures in Tempe, Ariz., over spring break: Beautiful Arizona State University co-eds, spring training baseball, drinking beer poolside, palm trees – you get the point. But then the inevitable happened /_” I got mono.
For those of you who don’t know, mononucleosis is a virus that travels through saliva and, basically, makes its victim feel like a narcoleptic on valium.
OK, yeah, so why should you care? Because you probably already have mono.
Mono is most common among the college-aged in America, and it lasts anywhere from 1-5 months. Students who contract mono are often forced to withdraw from school for a semester.
Mono can be contracted from any type of saliva transfer, i.e. kissing, sharing a drink at the bar or a party, smoking out of the same utensil (tobacco, of course), or even sharing a fork. But there is a bigger story behind mono /_” the one CSU doesn’t want you to know – and it explains why we are such gullible targets.
Between lying on the couch, trying not to swallow and exploring my soft diet options last week (wicked cold sores inside the mouth usually accompany mono, making it too painful to eat), I found some time to do a little research.
Ah research – spring break ’02 rules!
I was surprised to learn that 95 percent of the adult population in this country is actually a carrier of the mono virus. The symptoms only come to the surface when a person’s immune system becomes worn down. Just a few of the ways this could happen are due to a lack of sleep, living in unsanitary conditions, unhealthy diet, or living and working in densely populated quarters /_” a.k.a. college.
Getting enough sleep is the key to mono prevention, something hard to accomplish for many students. While it’s widely believed that a person needs eight hours of sleep a night to be healthy, eight’s just not enough for me. I’ve argued this point many times /_” only to be called lazy /_” but some can’t appreciate that everyone’s different. Some people only need six hours, most need eight; I need at least nine, but during the school week, I rarely get even seven.
Lack of sleep is becoming too common in this country, and our college system makes obtaining my goal of nine hours unreasonable.
As students, learning to mix school, work and a social life in college is just part of our “real world” preparation. Of course, we are programmed to think vain things such as sleep and a healthy diet must be sacrificed if we want to be “productive citizens.” Americans who sit atop almost every career field have sacrificed their health to increase their productivity and earn the label of “successful” /_” it’s the American way, and it begins in college, maybe even in high school.
The college culture that trivializes sleep needs change. Sleep should be respected, and recognized for its infinite value to the human physique.
I’m not writing this because I have a fever, or due to the fact I gave my commemorative speech on naps, no, this is to comfort the tired of CSU.
It seems to be successful at CSU, you better be exhausted, or you’re just not trying – what a nightmare.
Call me lazy for making sleep my top priority; just don’t do it before 9.
Zeb’s column appears in the Collegian every Tuesday. He finds it interesting that Mayan Indians believed the point of life was not in the in the waking state, but in dreams during sleep.