Two stories of scholarly dedication from Peter Watson’s The German Genius. The first is about Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the classical scholar, art historian and archaeologist:
After Berlin, Winckelmann transferred to the universities of Halle and Jena, where he studied medicine, philosophy and mathematics, supporting himself as a tutor. He would read Greek til midnight, sleep in an old coat in an armchair until four in the morning, when he would resume reading. In the summer months he slept on a bench with a block of wood tied to his foot which fell down at the slightest movement and wakened him.
The second is about Friedrich August Wolf, the philologist:
Born in 1759, the son of a schoolteacher, Wolf could read some Greek at the age of 6, and rather more Latin and French. At Göttingen… he slept for just two nights a week for six months, so as to immerse himself in his beloved classical authors as quickly as possible, keeping himself awake by sitting with his feet in a bowl of cold water. He would bind up one eye with a bandage to rest it, while he used the other.