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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

On the nature of daylight

After the transition back from daylight savings time, it is important to recognize that sleeping in doesn’t make you lazy.

dark boston ave night.jpeg

Businesses on Boston Avenue are pictured in the evening on December 2022.

I absolutely hate waking up early. This semester, I am taking a grand total of one class before 10:30 a.m. — the first of my college career. The entire day before class, I dread the thought of having to wake up at such an ungodly hour. Coming from Los Angeles, I am quite used to having a plethora of sunny days throughout the year. In fact, Los Angeles has about 275 days of sunshine per year compared to Boston’s average of 200. Last year, I found myself wishing that I could wake up earlier and enjoy more hours of sunlight per day during the winter months. Now that daylight savings is over and the sun is setting earlier, I will once again face this Catch-22 of either waking up earlier or missing out on hours of sunlight.

There are plenty of good reasons to strive for more hours of daylight. Chief among them is happiness. Quite simply, basking is a wonderful thing. There are few things that a person can frequently bask in, yet the light of the sun provides humanity with a respite from their overwise basking-free lives. Given the importance of sunlight, it is easy to see how seasonal depression is a very real phenomenon, and spending time in the daylight during the winter months is important to improving your mood. Thus, I do not wish to argue that it is foolish or not worthwhile to try to spend more time outside during the light of day. However, I believe an often overlooked factor to some people’s melancholy during the winter months is their own reflection of what their sleeping habits say about them.

There exists a societally-cultivated notion that those who sleep in are lazy or generally less hardworking than those who wake up early to seize the day. For example, when Steve Harvey discussed the importance of waking up early, he argued that you should do so because the stock market is already open on the East Coast by the time you wake up in Los Angeles. Given that Tufts is on the East Coast, this might be slightly less of an issue. However, the genius of Harvey’s message still rings true. Indeed, perhaps day traders hoping to monitor stock prices earlier in the morning could benefit from waking up early. For the rest of us though, the idea that waking up late somehow makes you lazy is a clear logical fallacy. Like myself, many people who wake up late also go to bed late and are perfectly capable of being awake for as many productive hours as early risers. However, this societal stigma only applies to people who sleep in.

For this reason, it is easy to feel unproductive or lackadaisical on days where you sleep in. This is especially amplified when the sun setting earlier in the day serves as an inescapable visual reminder of your slothfulness and brings you shame. It doesn’t have to be this way though. It is high time for society to recognize that it’s not inherently bad to sleep in late — all that matters is what you make of the time you have while you’re awake.

In Franz Kafka’s novella, “The Metamorphosis” (1915), when Gregor awakens to find that he has been transformed into an exceptionally large insect, he thinks, “how about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense?” I much prefer the utility of Gregor’s pondering to Harvey’s. Of course, waking up a bit earlier to get more sunshine is typically a good idea from a physical and mental health perspective. However, there are probably plenty of days when you wake up feeling — metaphorically, at least — like you’re in Gregor’s position. It is valuable to acknowledge then that it’s society’s fault that we’re conditioned to feel lazy about sleeping in late, and not any fault of our own. It is perfectly valid to simply be productive later in the day. Plus, college is just a bunch of nonsense anyway.