Today, high school students are often expected to excel in every aspect of their lives – to be social butterflies, and play varsity sports, and get straight A’s, and start a company, and make fantastic art, the list going on and on. The reality is that time is a finite resource, so students that want to excel in more than one area have to do so by strategically managing their time. This is one of those strategies, attributed to the hit show Elementary.
In an early episode, Sherlock tries to stay up all night working on a case – not unlike a high school student trying to pull an all-nighter – but finds it difficult to fight off his desire to sleep. Dr. Watson prescribes a solution that she used in medical school during all-nighters: squats. She goes on to explain that circulating your blood around through physical activity will lead to more alertness, and Sherlock ends up making it through the night and into the morning with sore thighs and a solution to the case.
After I viewed this episode, I couldn’t help but wonder if Watson was onto something. My desires of fitting in a workout and increasing my work output seemed to fit in perfectly with this squats and study solution. I decided to test it out for the first nine weeks of my junior year. The results? I did find myself able to stay awake longer than usual by doing squats, and my health did improve slightly because I don’t usually exercise. However, I also found that trying to substitute sleep with squats wasn’t worth it in the long run. During the day, I was more tired than before.
In the next nine weeks, I decided to stop using squats and instead focused on increasing my workspeed so that I could finish the same amount of work in less time. The results? By the end of the nine weeks, I was sleeping an hour more and feeling much more energized during the day. While I wasn’t gaining as much muscle mass, my grades did end up improving because I was able to focus in class.
Watson’s squats may help during the occasional all-nighter, but the lesson learned was definitely that sleep can’t be substituted in the name of productivity. While it’s great to try to excel in as many ways as possible, at the end of the day you’re more likely to have just spread your efforts to thin and end up with a bunch of mediocrity. I found out that excelling in my studies and sleeping were the most important things for me, and I found a way to do it through increasing my workspeed. I may have had to sacrifice being able to fit in a workout, but I gained so much more in other areas that it did in a way “work out.”