Let's create a healthier student lifestyle at MIT and beyond

Join us in preventing student mental health suffering and suicides!

Sleep is for the Strong A Project of Documentaries

How hard is it to be a student at MIT?

MIT is known as the best engineering school in the world. But, being an undergraduate student at MIT can be hard in many ways -- not just academically.

Our documentary will tell the stories of 45 MIT students and alumni who share their struggles at MIT, and how they wish to see student life be improved on campus.

We decided to capture the stories that students have to share about challenges of being an undergrad at MIT in a documentary called Sleep is for the Strong. From these first-hand accounts, we hope to get a sense of the common issues that MIT students are facing and begin to talk about ideas for a better life experience on campus.

We are creating a movement for healthier student lifestyles. The documentary will be shown at MIT and discussed among students, faculty, and administration to spread awareness about student life issues and spark ideas for creating an improved undergraduate experience.

About 35% of MIT students in each graduating class visit the Mental Health Services by the time they graduate. That statistics does not even include all the students experiencing mental health problems who don't seek help.

"As the director of this documentary project, I had severe depression, anxiety, and plenty of other mental health issues by my third year at MIT. It had reached a point where I didn't care if I lived or died anymore. Most of my friends and peers were also experiencing some sort of psychological instability. Some of my friends were in a worst condition than I was even.

By the time I graduated, my only wish was to be healed from the damaging effects of my lifestyle at MIT. I had lost all my hopes for being a happy person again. All I could think about was how it made no sense that getting a Bachelor's degree had to be so detrimental to one's health. So, I decided to gather students to come share their stories and hopes for improvement in order to start a student-led conversation about creating a healthier student life and culture at MIT."

The story of Sahar Hakim-Hashemi, the film director was recently published in the following article:

"Recent Alum Standing Up for Student Mental Health at MIT"

These are the famous mantras at MIT:

"SLEEP is for the WEAK"

"Work, Friends, Sleep: Pick Two"

These are not sustainable mottos for students to live by or encourage.

This article was published on AsAmNews about our project:

"Sleep Deprived Students Struggle with Mental Health"

Lack of sleep or balance in life can be tolerated for short periods of time before causing serious health problems.

Sleep deprivation HURTS learning, problem-solving, creativity, and judgment.


That's why we decided to inspire a transformation on campus by making a documentary called SLEEP is for the STRONG, because the truth is that Sleep is NOT for the weak. Getting enough sleep and taking care of ourselves is essential for strength and health.

You are invited to join our movement to transform our campus into a healthier educational institute.

Let's hold hands and create a campus where students don't experience mental, emotional, and physical suffering anymore!

The Need for A Conversation

Between March 2014 and 2015, 7 members of the MIT community took their own lives. Three of them were undergraduate students. This heart-breaking news was covered by media outlets and caused reflection in the MIT community. Since then, there has been another suicide this past September.

7 suicides in 1 year

Although we don't know the reason behind each and every suicide at MIT, we do know that one of the major causes of suicide is mental health illness. There are plenty of students who contemplate suicide and don't tell anyone about it. The psychological and health damages that many students acquire can also impact their lives long after they graduate. Having health issues can also make learning difficult for students.

Because MIT students are constantly doing schoolwork, they don't often have much time to talk about their issues. They also usually donʼt want to seem "weak" by revealing their problems. That is why many students feel alone in their difficulties, because they canʼt see that almost everyone around them is having similar challenges.

We hope that the courage of all the students and alumni who have come on camera to talk openly about their personal hardships will inspire other students and members of the MIT community to come forward and express their own hardships and hopes for improvement. This film can be an immense reassurance for students that they are not alone in their difficulties at MIT. Whenever any student feels lonely, they can watch the film and listen to others who have had the same experience as them.

Through this film, students and the MIT community are invited to come together and think critically about common student life issues and ideas for promoting a healthier undergraduate experience. This documentary can potentially lead to a much larger conversation that spreads beyond MIT to students in other universities and educational programs as well.

How will the campaign funds be used?

We have spent the past two years working hard on filming for this documentary project and campaign. Now, we have reached a point where we need financial support to complete the project. Since the topic of this documentary is incredibly important for students and the MIT community at large, we need to spend extra energy to make sure that our film is decent and engaging. To make a high quality documentary requires a lot of time and resources.Quality is critical if we want to reach people and make an impact. Any contribution, no matter how small, will help us in making this documentary happen!

Your Donation = Tax-Deductible

Your Donation = Less Taxes for You

Your donations are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE due to our fiscal sponsorship with From the Heart Productions, a 501(c)3 non-profit.

You can DOUBLE the impact of your donation with a MATCHING DONATION from your employer company.

If you have a job, please check to see if your EMPLOYER has a corporate MATCHING GIFT PROGRAM. You can search in Google and ask your Human Resources Department.

If your company PROVIDES a Matching Gift Claim Form, please complete it and send it to:

From the Heart Productions, Inc.

1455 Mandalay Beach RD.

Oxnard, CA 93035

Your company's Matching Gift can count toward your Perk Level as well :-)

(We also accept non-cash donations of film equipment and materials.)

Your contribution will help us with:

Filming Equipment (Cameras + Microphone and Add-ons + Sound Recorder + Tripods + Memory Cards + Lighting + Batteries + Camera Cases )

Film Editing Equipment ( Video Editing Software + Professional Hard Drives + Extra RAM )

Post-Production Film Editing ( Hiring Film Editors + Professional Sound Mixing & Design + Professional Color Correction + Music Royalty Fees + DCP Formatting )

Director Travel To/From MIT For Filming/Campaign ( over 2 years )

MIT Film Screening & Discussion Events ( colored posters + Hiring Screening Technicians + Reception)

Promotion ( submission fee for documentary film festivals + creative PR work)

Online Film Distribution Fees

Miscellaneous Fees ( Filming Insurance for MIT Campus + Fiscal Sponsor Fee + Legal Work + Website Fees for 10 years)

Fiscal Sponsorship Fees

Even though we know that we cannot thank you enough for your support, we have spent a lot of love and energy in creating some gifts that we hope will make you happy and show our heartfelt appreciation to you. It's your choice whether you wish to receive these gifts or pass on them. Many many thanks!!

$25 and up -

Sending you Thanks & Wishes -- Thanks for joining us in the "Sleep is for the Strong" movement! We will send you exclusive updates about the film and campaign, and you name will go up on the "Thank You" page in the film's Website.

$50 and up -

The Film -- You will receive an Exclusive Link to Download the Sleep is for the Strong documentary so that you can watch it over and over again and show it to family and friends. You will be one of the first to watch the film. + Sending You Thanks & Wishes

$100 and up -

Personal Thanks -- The director will send you a Personal Thank You video. + The Film + Sending You Thanks & Wishes

$250 and up -

Meet the Director -- You will be invited by the director, Sahar, to have coffee or tea with her if she is in your town. She spends most her time in the Boston Area, around Minneapolis, and Montreal, Canada. If she does not happen to travel to where you live, then you can have a Skype chat with her to talk about the film or anything related. + The Film + Personal Thanks + Sending You Thanks & Wishes

$500 and up -

Thank YOU in End Credits -- You will receive a THANK YOU in the End Credits. And also on our website. + Meet the Director + The Film + Personal Thanks + Sending You Thanks & Wishes

$1,000 and up -

VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU in End Credits -- You will receive a VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU in the End Credits. And also on our website. + Meet the Director + The Film + Personal Thanks + Sending You Thanks & Wishes

$2,000 and up -

Publicity For YOU -- To thank you for your generous contribution, we will present your NAME or LOGO along with a bio or brief description of your company or brand in the end credits of the film and on our website. We will announce you as our sponsor during the screening of the film.

$5,000 and up -

Be Our Producer -- You will be credited as "Associate Producer" of the documentary as a courtesy title for your financial contribution. That means your support will be recognized forever since your name will go on the IMDB website. We can also write about you on our website if you wish.

The Impact beyond MIT

Going to college is a critical part of growing up. It is a time that many in their late teens and early twenties are learning to be adults. For many students, it is the first time that they are living on their own, away from their families. That's why the 4 years of college becomes an experience that influences students' lives even after they graduate.

As it is, many universities are becoming more and more like "pressure-cookers," where students are mostly running around to meet deadlines for their assignments. Balancing academics with other basic human needs (like eating, exercising, socializing, enjoying hobbies, and relaxing) can be extremely challenging in such environments. Moreover, societal pressures can cause students to sacrifice their health and sanity in order to get ahead academically.

At MIT, for example, the mindset of "SLEEP is for the WEAK" gives higher status to those students that DON'T pay attention to their health. Students who can endure the most number of hours without sleeping are praised by their peers. Meanwhile, the saying "Work, Friends, Sleep: Pick Two" leaves no room for a balanced life, which is essential for a healthy mind and body. This type of culture tends to glorify those students who can endure the most amount of suffering. We believe this is very wrong!

That's why we want to promote a mindset that is healthier for the general student body. That mindset is "SLEEP is for the STRONG." We want to spread this motto at MIT and other universities.

Our film cast and crew have been very brave to come on camera and talk about these issues. Standing up to give constructive criticism about the student culture and education system at the #1 ranked engineering school in the world takes a lot of guts and heart. However, we believe that it is a highly important topic to be discussed.

We truly believe that students at MIT and other universities can get a top-quality education without having to lose their sanity. Getting enough sleep and leading a healthy, balanced life actually helps with academic performance. Having education systems that prepare students to confidently lead happy, healthy, and meaningful lives after their graduation is important for the growth of our society. That is what we are striving for through our campaign.

Your support would help us to start a conversation about the unhealthy effects of the current student lifestyle and education system at MIT and other similar universities. It is a topic that is often overlooked and without your help it would be hard to make a high quality documentary and movement that may have a chance to gain national attention.

How else to support us...

Share this campaign with your social network!

~*~ EMAIL the campaign to anyone you think should hear about this movement!

~*~ SHARE the campaign with your friends on FACEBOOK, Twitter, Instagram, OR your OWN blog, AND other social media outlets!

~*~ TELL your FRIENDS & FAMILY about this campaign!

~*~ LIKE the Sleep is for the Strong Facebook Page and invite your FRIENDS!

~*~ FOLLOW us on Twitter @SleepStrong and TWEET our campaign with #college, #sleep, #mentalhealth, or #SleepStrong hashtags

~*~ CONNECT US with BLOGS or MEDIA OUTLETS who might want to write about this movement and documentary project!

~*~ If you have ANY OTHER IDEAS that could help us in any way, CONTACT US at sleep.is.for.the.strong@gmail.com

About the Team

We plan on expanding our team to bring on more campaign leaders at MIT. Also, more editors, composers, graphic designers, and crew members once we begin the Post-Production stage.

We want to thank From the Heart Productions for being our fiscal sponsor! They have been supporting and guiding us through our journey!

This is our lovely team so far...

Sahar Hakim-Hashemi -- Director, Producer, Editor

Sahar is 2013 graduate of MIT. During her four years at MIT, she witnessed a lot of friends around her experience serious suffering due to the undergraduate culture and lifestyle on campus. By her third year, she had reached a point where she did not care to be alive anymore. After graduating, she felt a need to share her story and allow other students to open up about their challenges and start a conversation on improving student life. She hopes that MIT becomes a healthier educational institute for undergrads. In the past, she has made several short films. After graduation, she was on the production team at CCTV for a year and was given an award there. For her essays, stories, and speeches, she has gotten recognition and awards.

Chacha Durazo -- Co-Producer

Chacha is a current MIT grad student and a former MIT class of 2014 undergrad. She believes that the topic of struggling at MIT needs to be talked about more in the open! Many MIT students experience trials and challenges, but often over the course of her four years at MIT, she felt alone in failing exams, battling depression, being so stressed that she could not sleep, etc. She made it a point to speak honestly whenever someone asked her how she was doing, because she wanted to be sure to let others know that they were not alone in struggling. During her junior year at MIT, Chacha directed Project dx/dt, which is a documentary about how sexual assault has affected students at MIT. Her documentary has been shown many times on campus and received a lot of attention. Since then, she has organized numerous campus-wide events and discussions about sexual assault at MIT.

Anthony McHugh-- Undergrad Leader

Anthony is a current student at MIT. He is the President of New House dormitory and a leader in the MIT community. He believes that MIT should be an opportunity for him to learn how to push his mind and body enough. Enough to achieve the goals that he sets for himself, while continuing to grow and develop in a sustainable way. He knows that sleep, healthy exercise, and a balanced diet are essential and yet don't get the support and attention that they deserve. He works with MIT Mental Health, his living community, and his fellow athletes to establish goals and habits that are healthy and sustainable. Due to his leadership roles, Anthony is in contact with many types of students on campus, and he is uniquely aware of the various challenges that students deal with at MIT. Thus, he is standing for the Sleep is for the Strong campaign on campus.

Memry Roessler -- Story & Narrative Mentor

Memry has been an English teacher for more than two decades. She began her teaching career in public schools and then found her way to Breck School, an elegant college prep school in Minnesota. This marks her 20th year at Breck as an English, Literature, Creative Writing, and Film teacher. She feels privileged to have spent so much time with interesting young people. Her love for cinema on all its levels (dramatic, literary, and cinematic) remains undiminished over time. She began working on a documentary some years ago to chronicle the chaos that is the borderland between Mexico and the U.S. She has a lot of footage, but as always, so little time. She waits for a time in the not-too-distant future when she can begin to tell this particular story which is so personal for her.

Shahin Parhami -- Directing & Editing Mentor

Shahin has directed several award-winning short and feature films that have been shown in numerous festivals, art galleries, and universities. Not only does Shahin direct his films, he also conducts all other creative aspects of production, including cinematography, editing, and sound design. His films have been selected in many prestigious festivals. His latest feature documentary, Amin, which portrays a musician's aspiration to preserve the musical heritage of his dying culture, was nominated as the best feature documentary at the Asian Pacific Screen Awards. It also premiered at Pusan International Film Festival and won awards at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, and Dubai International Film Festival.

A more complete list of our team can be found on our website www.SleepIsForTheStrong.com

We are DEEPLY HAPPY to have you with us in our journey to START A CONVERSATION!


$100 Raised
1% towards $15,000 Goal

Supported by 1 Donation:

  • Amy D.
    I Gave $100
    This is important for all students not just those at MIT. Reach to help all those suffering under academic stress. Our system of education is toxic.