You deserve a break—we get it. But there’s a lot to be said for getting out of bed before dinner.
By Jill Phelan, St. Vincent College
I know from personal experience that it can be tempting when you get home from college to kick off your shoes and binge watch Netflix until five in the morning for a week at a time (especially if you weren’t already doing that while you were away at school).
Most likely, you’re thinking something along the lines of: After everything I just put up with for four months, I deserve to just let loose and have a break. I’m FREEEEEEEEEE!
The world is your oyster now, right? Wrong.
If you’re anything like me, then you’re setting yourself up for disaster. With two jobs and an internship just a couple weeks around the corner, I was only creating more problems for Future Jill to handle.
Now I really want to go beat up Past Jill for being such a selfish jerk.
Since all of my work has started up for the summer (unfortunately), I’m like an owl fighting its instincts, trying to stay awake during the day. 3am feels like 3pm and vice versa, which is why I’m currently writing this article at 3:25am, hating myself for having given in to “Grey’s Anatomy” for the past few nights. Curse you, Meredith Grey and all of your dark and twisty charm!
All I wanted to do was relax before I had to face round two of responsibilities, but of course it’s not that simple because I’m a grown-up now, and life hates adults for some reason.
And for the past several nights, I’ve been lying awake at night from midnight to 6am tossing and turning, trying desperately to fall asleep—but my body just refuses because it wants to rest while the sun is shining instead.
So I’m here today to tell you that as badly as you may want to plug yourself into the TV and lose all track of time, don’t. Even though the idea of abandoning any sort of schedule or daily routine you may have had during school may seem liberating, it can actually be pretty detrimental.
I know that staying up really late can make it appear that you’re lengthening your day, and sometimes you do everything you can to keep from falling asleep because you just want to draw out your vacation time as much as possible. But it’s all a ruse designed by your brain to put you through hell for no apparent reason. Be smart and don’t fall for the trap.
Before you know it, you’ll be staying up until 5 AM and not waking up until the evening. And then trying to reset your sleep schedule will be a nightmare (pun fully intended—I have no shame).
If you’re lucky enough to not have even a single thing going on while the sun is out, then by all means, spend the nighttime doing whatever you please and crawl back into bed by sunrise. You can be nocturnal for the rest of your vacation if you so choose. But just know that I envy you and I hate you.
However, if you’re not so fortunate, then heed my warning: don’t succumb to the darkness (both literal and metaphorical). Because when you eventually reach the point where you have to start working at eight in the morning—which will happen whether you like it or not—you’ll be dragging your feet the whole day from only getting three hours of sleep.
Ever try carrying heavy trays of drinks out to a crowded dining room while you’re still half asleep? It’s not fun, I can promise you that.
And don’t think that coffee can get you through. It may help, but it can’t work miracles, especially if you’re drinking it every day. You’ll eventually need more and more to keep you going, and downing eight cups by noon just isn’t healthy by any means.
And even if you don’t have to get to a job at the crack of dawn, there are still plenty of events you will miss out on during the day that are non-work related, like doctor’s appointments, errands or family get-togethers. You know, normal stuff that normal people do at an appropriate time.
By staying up all night, you run the risk of closing yourself off from the rest of society and becoming a shut-in.
Soon, the kids down the street will make up stories about the crazy lady who never comes out of her house because she’s probably a witch who steals the souls of children or a werewolf who feasts on human flesh or something else that’s totally preposterous. For your own sake, just don’t give them the opportunity to turn you into the next campfire horror story.
If you still insist on taking some time off to do whatever your little heart desires, just don’t make a habit of doing it for the whole summer. Because once you start gluing yourself to the TV or eating up minutes another way, you’ll start to lose track of what day it is and get so out of sync that it’ll be near impossible to readjust when the fall semester rolls back around.
Schedules are kind of a drag, but they keep you in check and help you stay connected to daily life.
You don’t need to watch a whole season of “Grey’s Anatomy” in one night (no matter how much you want to). You can limit yourself to three or maybe even five episodes and still get to bed at a decent hour so as not to upset the delicate balance of your circadian rhythm.
So if you’re going to chill out and disappear into your couch, just don’t go off the rails and be sure to get back into the swing of things as soon as you can for your own sake. Try to think big picture happiness as opposed to short-term pleasure. Your future self will thank you later.