Submission by Evan Knappenberger

Sleep is arguably one of the most important parts of life. The higher up the evolutionary ladder we go, the more essential sleep becomes to the survival of an organism. Human beings require relatively long periods of sleep in order to thrive, and studies show that quality and quantity of sleep are closely correlated to physical, emotional and mental well-being.

When I was in the army, my drill sergeants told me to “sleep when you’re dead,” and I routinely worked 36-hour shifts with maybe a few hours of fleeting rest in between. More than once, through a groggy haze, I bitterly swore that I would never work the night shift again and rued the day that I enlisted. Tough as I was, I learned the hard way that sleep is essential. Several friends of mine from the army died driving while sleep deprived or suffered from other forms of chronic drowsiness. Sleep research corroborates the theory that years of sleep deprivation made me dumber, and data indicates a plethora of other negative effects associated with a lack of “Z’s.”

Like many universities, Western suffers from a systemic sleep problem rooted in the fast pace of modern culture, a lack of sufficient quiet on and around campus and too much artificial light. Much of the attention given to the problem blames students participating in a culture which encourages heightened productivity at the expense of health and well-being.

Yes, students sometimes pull all-nighters or abuse substances in their zeal to perform, and yes they also sometimes do it for fun. But less attention is given to the fact that student housing on and off campus is woefully non-conducive to healthy sleep patterns. Even less attention is given to the fact that bad roommates can ruin the college experience by playing videogames or having sex late into the night. These kinds of social problems are inevitable in crowded conditions and cannot be solved with a pair of ear plugs and a blindfold. This is why Western needs a sleep center.

A sleep center can be one dark room lined with cots. An attendant could check Western IDs and sign students in at a reception desk. A cot number could be assigned, and the student would write down a time they would want to be woken up. There would be no cellphones or alarms allowed, and strict silence would be observed. At the specified time, the attendant would gently wake the student, who would then come out healthier, happier, more productive and statistically less likely to commit a crime, get in an accident or fail a test.

The expense of operating a sleep center is minimal. The maintenance of cots and an attendant is more than justified by the results. The quality of life at Western would be significantly and positively impacted by such a plan, and students would be afforded peace of mind knowing that their futures do not necessarily hinge on whether their neighbors are planning a rave for Thursday night before a big test. In fact, the only challenge to implementing the sleep center idea is finding room for it, which would not be hard to do.

When I was in the army, there were innumerable times that I would have paid good money for a quiet place to sleep. Now that I am paying to go to Western, I see the possibility that students can organize their own sleep center through the Associated Students. We owe it to ourselves to get plenty of quality sleep, and we owe it to each other to have a place to do just that, whether just for a quick nap or for a few peaceful hours.

Evan Knappenberger is a junior at Western and an Iraq war veteran with PTSD. He is buying a house across town mostly just for the tranquility and quiet. He can be reached at knappee@students.wwu.edu.

We accept submissions of all sorts including news articles, opinions and literary pieces. You can email them to as.review@wwu.edu. Please include your name and phone number. The AS Review serves as a forum for student voices, and the opinions in submissions are not always shared by our staff.