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Your bed is meant for sleeping, not studying

In order to be productive and do my best work, I have to go sit in a campus-created study space or coffee shop environment – with the help of some caffeine, of course. Even in high school, I craved those scenery changes to actually complete assignments and be motivated enough to even start.

Even if I'm sitting at my desk in my dorm with my phone plugged in across the room, it’s still extremely difficult for me to not distract myself with anything or take a nap. 

Just the other day, I did all my laundry, vacuumed, rearranged my desk and cleaned every surface with an all-purpose cleaner. All of this just to avoid doing a couple of hours’ worth of work. 

It wasn’t until I dragged myself over to Armstrong to grab dinner and sit down at a table surrounded by other people studying that I was finally able to be productive that night. Armstrong, along with Starbucks, King Library and Kofenya are my go-to study spots when I need to sit down and grind out work for a decent chunk of time. 

There’s just something about being around a bunch of other people who are also working that motivates me to finally focus and stop procrastinating the week’s work. Based on how crowded each of these designated study spaces are each day, I can only imagine how many other students can relate to this way of operating. 

My favorite place is definitely Kofenya, since it gives off an amazing coffee shop vibe with the perfect ambiance. The light chit-chat, coffee machine noises and lo-fi music have helped grind out more assignments and online exams than I can count. I always leave feeling so accomplished. 

Unsurprisingly enough, I’m writing this piece in Kofenya while sipping on a chai latte, staring out of the window onto High Street. 

Some days, I’ll switch it up and study at a silent cubicle in the library or grab a muffin at King Cafe. On other days, if the line isn’t too long, I’ll even purchase an overpriced and over-iced drink at Starbucks and sit there to do some assignments. It’s the Walmart version of Kofenya, but some days when the walk to Uptown seems too unbearable, it does the job. 

In my short three months here, it has become evident that Miami’s creation of designated study spaces is significantly valued by its students. There is something to be said about separating where you sleep or unwind versus where you do schoolwork and study. 

In a BBC article, Bryan Lufkin addresses the issues tied to working from your bed, especially post-COVID, when people began to stay in this bad habit even after returning to in-person school and work. He notes the obvious – that doing so is detrimental to not just your posture, but mainly to your mental and physical health. 

In terms of mental health, the more that you do things other than sleep or relax in your bed, the more your brain is conditioned to think that that task is normal there. By doing work in this relaxing place, you're confusing your brain; instead of it knowing to go to sleep or be tired the minute you're in bed, your brain will actually be trained to be stimulated or alert enough to do work. 

The more often homework is done in this relaxing place, or the more you confuse your brain, the harder it is to actually rest and fall asleep there. The frequency of this habit during quarantine for over a year can lead to insomnia, or “circadian rhythm disorder,” which is when our bodies’ natural clock, or way of telling us when it’s time to sleep, gets messed up. 

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Due to these findings, I have definitely stopped doing homework in my bed, even if I’m exhausted. I even try not to work in my room at all. 

It’s best to venture off to one of these shared study spaces, get work out of the way there and then come back “home” to a stress-free environment. Maybe some of us get our work done best at these locations as a result of study hall in high school or workshop-modeled classes where we worked independently, but with our peers also in the room. 

Either way, these intentional study spaces on campus create a motivating study environment for students to be productive in their studies without having to ruin the “vibe” of their cozy dorm or bed, which helps study spaces to also have a positive impact on campus-wide mental health.