Yeah, I get that folks leave for work at seven ’cause we ain’t used to have light bulbs at night, but it’s been like a hundred damn years… Maybe I’m progressive, but maybe also you’re old-fashioned, like all knowin’ what it looks like for a horse to go to the bathroom start-to-finish. I ain’t sure, but I’m almost sure, and the man who invented the future barely even had that.
Ray Smuckles, of Achewood
For the past three years, my bed-time has ranged from 12 to 2 am, hours that are ideal for discovering online games, rereading articles, and eating cereal. I’ve been able to get away with it, too, thanks to the flexibility of my college and work schedules. And some of my proudest achievements (a concept album recorded in a night, several dozen research papers, and the completion of Mario 3 without warping) have taken place late at night. But this week I had a startling epiphany: maybe sleeping in isn’t actually all that amazing.
This is a conclusion I had a hard time accepting, but the evidence supporting it was compelling. I spent Sunday through Wednesday in a stupor, dragging my carcass from place to place and wearily wondering when the apocalypse of 2012 would get here so I didn’t have do all these tiresome activities such as leaving the house and eating lunch. I was not a super fun guy to be around, but I couldn’t figure out how to break out of my coma. I kept going to bed earlier and earlier and sleeping in* later and later but the tiredness (and the accompanying bad mood) remained.
And then on Thursday I was forced to get up early and stumbled out of bed cursing the world…and within forty-five minutes I felt awesome. I’ve never thought of myself as a morning person, but I was skipping down the streets of East Liberty and humming songs from the Sound of Music and that sort of insufferable morning person thing. The next three days, I’ve woken up early to similar results, and this has got me thinking: what good is sleeping in if it leaves you too glum to sing about your favorite things?**
Now, I don’t think sleeping in is always bad. It’s a way to prove to yourself that you are a human, not a machine, and that you have the power of choice to throw a middle finger to the societal covenant and roll under the covers.
But I also think that sloth, like gluttony, is a Deadly Sin that is more fun to anticipate (and perhaps to brag about) than to actually do. Getting up a little before the brain wants is a physical jolt more authentic and wholesome than caffeine. For people who are bad at waking early, like me, it’s also a bit of personal triumph, like climbing a mountain. We have defied nature and won, so the rest of the day should be a snap.
We’ll see how long my new early morning policy lasts against the powerful allure of the late-morning bed. For now, though, I’ll try to treat sleeping in as a “sometimes” activity, like eating funnel cakes. And when I give in and indulge, I’ll be sure to make the most of it.
* What constitutes sleeping in is, of course, highly subjective. For the purpose of the article, I’ll define sleeping in thusly: as waking up when the body sees fit, without aids like alarms, bright sunlight, or roosters.
** Doorbells, Sleigh Bells, schnitzel with noodles