Why Mental Health and Sleep Are Important for Law School Success

Why mental health and sleep is important for law school successPlease welcome back 2L guest writer, Shirlene Armstrong, to discuss why self care is so important in law school (she learned the hard way)!

So it’s the start of my 2L year, and I’m really excited to get the year going. I’m in my “work to death” year at law school, so I knew that I would be busier than last year and I would have to strategize how I tackle my work-school-life balance. However, I didn’t do a great job of that in my second week of 2L year. Unfortunately, I neglected my health and wound up sick. I hope you learn from my mistakes and realize that your health (and sleep) are important in order to be successful in law school.

Busy, Busy, Busy

My favorite phrase that people say to me is “I don’t know how you do it all.” I take great pride in being busy and juggling A LOT. I’ve always been this way. In high school I was in so many organizations, worked a part-time job, and still made the top 10 in my class. Undergraduate was no different where I was in numerous clubs, on student government, participated in the community, was the president of an organization, and stayed on top of working and going to class. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise you that in law school I am the busiest I have ever been. I LOVE being busy. I am really organized and disciplined so I am able to keep track of everything and still put forth a great effort. I arguably take on too much and spread myself thin, however I enjoy being this way and don’t see myself changing this anytime soon. So, my 2L year has literally been the busiest ever. On top of taking a full load of classes, I work for Lexis as a student representative, I rep for another company, I’m in a few clubs, I am the treasurer with the Women’s Law Caucus, on the Mock Trial team, work part-time as a law clerk, and still maintain (relatively) good relationships with my friends and family.


To no one’s surprise (including my own), I got sick. I have always been a relatively healthy person. I normally don’t get sick, but, when I do, it’s a simple cold that I can still push through and will get better without taking any time off. Fortunately, I didn’t need to miss class or work, but I had to pump the brakes hard. Instead of spending the weekend going to the events I had planned and studying, I spent the entire weekend at home in bed or on the couch. I was not productive at all, and it really put me behind for the following (yet another) busy week.

Take Time To Relax and SLEEP

So, don’t be busy? Don’t have commitments? No, that’s not what I’m trying to say. Life, especially in law school, is all about balance. You have to figure out what you can reasonably commit yourself to without being overstressed or spread too thin. However, you also have to commit yourself to relaxing and getting sleep. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me, the second week of school and already sick. Part of being a law student is learning how to manage many different responsibilities while still remaining sane. This is because when you’re an attorney, you have to juggle several different clients and cases at various points in the process while ensuring you abide by your oath of professionalism and meet your deadlines. Attorneys balance work and life every day. Law students are expected to do the same. Thus, you have to make sure you maintain your health, both physical and mental, to be successful.

Sit Down, Be Humble, Be Healthy

Your health is really, really important. I cannot stress this enough. Although law school is also very important and you want to make sure you’re successful, you need to take time to take care of yourself. If you don’t, you’ll get sick, run-down, or worse, stressed to the point in which you drop out of law school. You have to remember that real life does not stop the minute you enter law school. Life continues on, and you are expected to balance it. Just make sure to check in with yourself and stay happy and healthy!


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About Shirlene Brown

Shirlene Armstrong is a first-generation student in her last year at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan. At Wayne, Shirlene has been involved with numerous organizations and clubs, including mock trial, LexisNexis, the Women's Law Caucus, and the Journal of Law and Society. Shirlene enjoys mentoring others and sharing what she has learned on her legal journey and continues to work hard in accomplishing her dreams.

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