The MBA Sleeper’s Guide

So you’ve embarked on an MBA programme at Warwick Business School? Well done! The Warwick MBA is your key to a happier life, a higher salary, lots of international friends, and more sexual frisson than you can shake a stick at. But there’s one essential skill you’ll need to survive, and that’s SLEEPING IN UNUSUAL PLACES.

You don’t get much time for slumber on the MBA; comfortable room or not, you will NOT spend much time in your bed this year. Beds are for reading up on the next day’s lectures and for doubling as surrogate deskspace, not for getting shut-eye. In addition, take a close look at those blankets. There’s a reason the smart kids bring their own duvets; own-brand Warwick bedding resembles 18th-century Prussian Army surplus.

So you need to find alternative venues for sleeping – and artful ways of arranging your schedule to do it. By far the most convenient place to sleep is the MBA lecture hall itself, but this is fraught with danger. There are three attitudes to adopt if you go down this route.

Best is to sit at the back, where the comforting hum of chatter will ensure a pleasant hour of slumber with low risk of the lecturer noticing. If you don’t bag one of the highly-prized back row seats, try the middle rows, but NOT near the doors: people needing the toilet will be endlessly crashing through the exits. Try to maintain an upright posture and you stand a fair chance of dozing for up to five minutes undisturbed. Beware, however: several of your cohort enjoy using digicams; your slumbering visage WILL be on Facebook before the day’s out.

For the really brave, the front row beckons. You’ll be noticed, but front-row people get plaudits for keenness, so the lecturer may let sleeping students lie (and you’ll avoid the ‘Nemotocam’.) At least one person in the 07 cohort just doesn’t give a damn and sleeps for approximately 2.5 hours of each 3.5 hour lecture.

However, outside the politically-charged environment of the lecture hall, numerous other business school locales offer creative sleeping possibilities. The MBA coffee lounge is fairly private, but all the chairs are upright; you could move a few tables together, but space-starved MBA candidates may start using your body as a worksurface. Better to go for one of the sofas at the Radcliffe end of the building; it’s public and full of much younger people than you, but since you’re old enough to pass for a lecturer you will not be disturbed.

The absolute gold standard, of course, is the circular meeting room over the main entrance, but for obvious reasons it’s usually locked. Staff need somewhere to sleep too.

If you can bag one alone, Syndicate rooms are an excellent choice. The doors are lockable, the chairs are soft, and best of all, if you’re in there people will think you’re actually working! These qualities, however, mean you can’t count on a syndicate room being available more than a few times a week. Wednesday mornings are best since that’s the lecture everyone feels able to skip, so many MBA participants won’t be in school.

There are other possibilities. Like a good hotel, WBS is full of little-known nooks not normally on student itineraries. There’s a cleaner’s storeroom west of the entrance; a warm IT office eastwards, and the smaller staff corridors upstairs are regularly deserted for hours at a time. If you’re REALLY nice to the coffee break caterer, she might let you crash in the back of the serving area for an hour or too. And if you’re simply too tired to get creative, there are always the soft options: trekking over to the library or Learning Grid usually yields half a sofa, and best of all there’ll be books to cover your face with!

In emergencies, there are a few – a very few – other possibilities. The upper-floor lecture halls at the back end are quieter and there are a few sofas; also, strategic use of coathooks can, with effort, enable a few minutes of ‘straphanging’ slumber. It may even be possible to bag a complete lecture hall of your own, and simply lie behind a table. In this situation, scatter a few textbooks around you as if you fell over; when disturbed, simply rub your head, gesture at the table edge, and say ‘Ow!’ with a pained wince. Complete the deception by asking the person who disturbed you for a glass of water.

I wish you all the best with your studies. And… sweet dreams!”

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