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Do not lose sleep over Course XIX

Ogden Nash once wrote "Some women talk too much and some women pray too much, but all women think that they weigh too much." This observation on human nature has a perfect analog at MIT: "Some people study too much and some people goof off too much, but all people think that they sleep too much."

While this may not be the poetic gem that Mr. Nash had in mind, I think these words ring true for any self-respecting MIT student. There seems to be a prevailing attitude (especially at this late date in the term) that sleep is a non-essential element of life.

It is not uncommon to be walking down the infinite corridor and overhear a conversation that goes something like this:

Jim: I stayed up until 4 am working on a problem set, and I didn't even finish it.

Julie: You call that late? I was up until 6 am writing a paper and studying for three exams.

BIll: Yeah, but I pulled eight all-nighters this week, and....

Jim: That's nothing. I woke up three hours before I went to bed and worked on my problem set for five man-years.

And so the conversations go on, in a manner that any Monty Python fan would shudder at. What does it all mean? Is the lack of sleep (or the claim of it) a status symbol that we should flaunt? Have you ever stayed up all night and then not told anyone about it?

The immediate response is that we have huge work-loads to tend to, and 24 hours is just barely enough time to finish everything. Or maybe we think that we should have a huge work load (after all, this is MIT and everyone else seems to be studying), so we just stay up all night, working and taking lengthy study breaks. Maybe I'm just totally wrong. But consider the following option:

Course 19: Rest Engineering.

19.01 -- Microrest: Students will study resting techniques on a small scale. Emphasis will be placed on naps and day-dreaming. Introductory topics include the Dirac Doze function and tail recursive cat naps.

19.02 -- Macrorest: Here students explore more detailed sleeping techniques, including entire nights of sleep, dream theory and sleeping through more than one lecture in a row.

19.06 -- Linear Sleep: Advanced class in mattress manipulation. Topics include unconsciousness and hiberation.

One final word about Course 19. Problem sets will be due regularly and will include extended hours of sleeping. Lab courses are particularly demanding and will require up to 12 hours of non-stop sleep on the weekends. And, yes, there is a UROP available. Course 19 professors need an undergrad to help redefine the word "restroom."