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Sleep Deprivation & Seminary

June 8, 2010

I was recently watching a documentary on hulu about Coca-Cola…and during one of the interstitials, there was a commercial for 5 Hour Energy.

Now, I normally do not care so much for energy drinks, and especially not their commercials. They have failed me plenty of times (in both safe and rather unsafe capacities). My brother practically swears by Red Bull though. Oh well.

But this commercial gave me a smile. It brings up memories of a phenomenon that I only recently became acquainted with.

Normally, I wouldn’t say I’ve had too many problems from lack of sleep. But when I started working on my internship, things changed. Most days, some time after lunch, I would just shut down. I would not be able to do anything from my desk, and I know that I’d be staring at whatever I was looking at, asleep with eyes open. After five minutes, I would jerk awake, fearful that someone had walked by my cubicle. But even fear couldn’t prevent it from happening again.

It was pretty scary. And I began to notice something. Every time I went to bed after 1, the next day, around 1:30 or 2:00, I would shut down. But if I went to bed around 1, then I had no problems.

So, this 5 Hour Energy commercial had caught my eye because it captured the phenomenon precisely. I know exactly what 2:30 in the afternoon feels like! It’s far worse than what many of the people in the commercial felt.

I wonder if I’m getting old. I used to do a lot crazier things when I was younger, but sleep deprivation rarely had such pronounced effects. Or rather, it did, but the effects were decidedly different.

I didn’t have the best track attendance for seminary attendance, but Dave’s article at T&S about it, sleep, and success intrigued me.

Perhaps I have nostalgia goggles, but looking back, I would say that I don’t think the early morning seminary and the frequent sleep deprivation wrecked my studies — or at least, if it interfered with my schooling, it was nowhere near as noticeable to me as the 2:30 effect clearly is to me now.

However, sleep deprivation did wreck one thing for me: the mornings themselves. If I have any qualms with early morning seminary, it is that it was absolutely useless for me. Not because of the material or the teachers — since I think I had pretty good seminary teachers (I guess I apologize for…dropping out…). Rather, I could not and would not function before 9:00 or 10:00 AM in those days.

I don’t think the answer is necessarily to go to bed earlier. I recognize that I am not that much of a morning person, but I am a night owl. Unfortunately, no one ever offers late night seminary. A pity too.

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  1. Recent studies also indicate that adolescents especially simply NEED extra sleep. The studies are suggesting that starting school at 7:00 AM may actually be harming school performance at high school level.

  2. My wife was saying I ought to teach seminary for homeschooled teenagers (we homeschool). I told her there’s no way the stake would be that reckless.

  3. nathankennard permalink

    I thought as a young person, feeling tired was a normal part of life. Certainly there were always more things to do than time to do them.

    Drug use and caffeine consumption makes some sense if they promote a desired performance enhancement. It would be interesting to know how many people justify this type of substance use with utilitarian ethics. (something like the ends justify the means)

  4. From a mainstream (nonLDS) perspective, it seems obvious that this happens. Heck, even when we move away from coffee or tea, this happens in an LDS context.

  5. I felt like early morning seminary was a good exercise in discipline for me. My high school was out at 2:02 PM anyways, so I could usually get home and nap if I wanted to.

    I barely remember anything that I learned at seminary. Mostly I remember the things I learned that made me say, “WTH, Mormons believe WHAT???”

    These days, sleep deprivation comes from my almost-four-year-old who gets up every day between 6 and 7:30 at the latest. She used to have preschool in the mornings from 7:10 – 11:00, so I could go back to sleep if I wanted to, but now she’s out for the summer until July 26. I really, really miss having that AM time to myself.

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