A Guide to Oversleeping: Tips from an "Industry Expert"

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You’re dreaming. It’s a weird dream, in which you are about to defeat Goldy Gopher in an intense game of rock, paper, scissors. Right as you’re about to show rock, your alarm goes off. Naturally, you’re pretty annoyed because you’re 110% sure Goldy was about to show scissors. You hit the snooze button and return to your dream to finish what you started. Sure enough, Goldy shows scissors and you’re a national hero! “Local College Student Cannot Be Beat” reads the headlines, and you bask in the fame and glory… for a little too long. You wake up and look at the clock. It reads 10:15 AM, and your first class of the day started at 8:00 AM.

Oversleeping happens to the best of us. Balancing school, clubs, jobs, and a social life can make it hard to go to bed at a reasonable time, which makes waking up for an 8:00 AM lab even harder. If you’re a night owl like me and have trouble waking up in the morning, you could really benefit from these tips on what to do when you wake up and realize you caught a few too many “Z’s.” You can trust me... I oversleep probably more than anyone.

Take a deep breath

After a few brief seconds of intense panicking and repeatedly asking yourself “why?”, take a second to remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world. There are numerous instances where I woke up to my roommate unnecessarily shouting expletives because he had ten minutes until his lecture started. Think optimistically; extra sleep is healthier, and chances are you needed it. Give your teddy bear a hug, calmly get out of bed, grab your favorite granola bar, and carry on with the rest of your day.

Analyze the situation

After you’ve calmed down a bit, take a good look at your situation and act accordingly.

  • If you wake up just a few minutes before your class starts, you should still try to go to class. It might be embarrassing to have all eyes on you as you enter the classroom a little late, but it’s better than missing important content from your professor or a surprise pop quiz. Skip your morning shower, put on a hat to cover your bedhead, awkwardly speedwalk past everyone on your way, and miss as little of class as possible.

  • Some smaller sized classes include attendance as a part of your final grade (I find this outrageous, but that’s a rant I’ll save for another time), but most big lectures do not. Don’t sweat it too much if you miss one or two of your 200 student biology lectures. Check out the class website for any notes or powerpoints from lectures that you miss, and do your best to not fall behind.

  • To email or not to email? If you slept through a large lecture, don’t bother your professor with an email about your absence… They probably couldn’t care less. However, it wouldn’t hurt to shoot a message to a lab TA or a professor of a small class that’s graded on attendance. Explain what happened and inquire about any work or information you missed.

  • If you feel it’s necessary, go to your professor’s office hours for help with understanding the material you missed. This shows your professor that you actually care about the class and weren’t simply playing “hooky.”

Be honest

Honesty is key; nobody likes a liar. Don’t make up an excuse… Your professors have heard them all and can usually tell when you’re lying. It will be especially tempting to fib in the rare and unfortunate occasion that you oversleep and miss a large exam or presentation, but honesty can go a long way. I’ll use a friend of mine as an example… we’ll call her “Carly.” She overslept through one of her political science discussion classes one Wednesday morning, and she emailed the professor explaining how her incredibly busy schedule has prevented her from getting enough sleep. The professor replied with this: “Thank you for the honesty Carly, don’t worry about it. I’ll give you an excused absence and see you on Monday.” Carly told me she felt that her relationship with her professor was actually strengthened, simply because she was honest. Remarkable, right? I can’t promise that all professors will be that nice, but if you ask me, one of the best things to do in any situation is to remain genuine and stick to your morals.


-Professional Oversleeper Kyle Tsuchiya