Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Alarm Clock

This week, Danny M. Lavery and Slate senior editor Jeffrey Bloomer discuss a Prudie letter: the alarm clock.

Danny M. Lavery: is it too….obvious? to say that I think perhaps the letter-writer’s frustration has less to do with the objective reasonableness of a half-hour alarm session and more to do with the overall tension of “three jobs versus no job”

Jeffrey Bloomer:Haha, this does feel a bit like one of those Am I the Asshole?questions where the person definitely knows they are right for more reasons than they say and just wants a long thread of people to say so

So here you go LW: Yes, it’s very ridiculous for him to be angry with you for waking him up with your sensible few alarms for work

Danny M. Lavery: I certainly understand the overall sense of frustration that the LW is stretched very thin and wants their boyfriend to be more accommodating! But I would be angry if I had to listen to someone hit the snooze button for a full half-hour

trying to fall back asleep to someone else’s alarm going off every five minutes?? monstrous

Jeffrey Bloomer:Haha see this happens in my household and it’s fine—my boyfriend gets up an hour earlier than I do after some snoozing, and I just roll over

Slightly annoying? Perhaps. Not MONSTROUS!

Danny M. Lavery:I think one round of snooze-button hitting is the maximum limit

and even then I think you need to change your life

any more than one snooze is just wanton cruelty

you’re not actually getting more or better sleep! countless studies have demonstrated it actually makes you more tired, and doesn’t do anyone good! I am very anti-snooze button, even though I really, really understand the desire to paw furiously at an alarm until it shuts up and leaves you alone

Jeffrey Bloomer:Oh you’re definitely right

I just do it anyway so I fully understand her impulse

Danny M. Lavery:I normally try to focus on the general principle, but I’m just so stuck on “we’re talking about 4-5 moments of soft music for a few second intervals”

Jeffrey Bloomer: Lolll

Danny M. Lavery:which would just absolutely annihilate me

Jeffrey Bloomer:The part that got me was “I don’t see a reason why a person should sleep longer than 7-8 hours a night, even if they are unemployed.”

That was definitely a HOLD UP

Danny M. Lavery:all my composure, all my values, all my sense of self – gone

I would be a gibbering wreck

yeah, some of this feels like….”I don’t need more than six hours of sleep, I’m okay working three jobs”…I don’t want to assume you can just blithely give one of those things up without taking a financial hit, so please don’t take this as “just work less, and feel better,” but I think this LW can stand to re-examine some of their assumptions about, like, “always grinding”

like, if you think your boyfriend has been too precious about applying for jobs and want him to look for something short-term even if it’s not his dream job, absolutely talk to him about that; if he’s not doing enough around the house or to contribute to your domestic life together, by all means, talk to him about that too

but if you’re coming at this like John Calvin “No one needs more than eight hours of sleep, and you don’t deserve it,” I think that’s taking things too far

Jeffrey Bloomer:Hahah, absolutely. And just as a general matter there is nothing wrong with sleeping for 10 hours or longer

I recommend it

Danny M. Lavery:and it is not a privilege to be exhausted and working three jobs

Jeffrey Bloomer:Yes

Danny M. Lavery:I get that you’re glad to have income! I’m glad of that too

but you should not have to be pushing yourself to the breaking point to support yourself

and people deserve sleep, and rest, and to have a life outside of work

Jeffrey Bloomer: And to be unemployed does not restrict access to rest

It comes back to what you said at the top: The tension here is not about the alarm, merits of it aside

Danny M. Lavery:yeah, I think you should look for ways to compromise with him, and at most you can have special dispensation to hit the snooze button TWICE. but five times is just too much!

and I get it – it feels like the one part of your day you have some control over, and where you get to say “No, I’m not getting up yet,” and you’re not a Work Machine

but you gotta look for other parts of your day/other places in your relationship where you can ask your partner to help you or change his habits

I cannot grant papal exception for anything more than two snoozes!

also, just speaking for myself, there is almost no sound so hateful as someone else’s alarm going off unexpectedly

it just feels like being wrenched out of heaven, like in season 6 of Buffy

Jeffrey Bloomer:That really brings your point home

The boyfriend feels like he’s having a sordid affair with Spike

Still, I also think he needs to chill—there’s no need to be angry that your partner needs to get up for work

He should err on the side of accommodation here

Danny M. Lavery: Right! He certainly has way more flexibility than the LW when it comes to adding time to his sleep schedule

and he should apologize for snapping, and just, you know, ask politely

which is part of why I come back to the sneaking suspicion there’s a lot under the surface of this alarm, about shared expectations and resentment and work and rest and so on

Jeffrey Bloomer: Yes. Find a time when you have both rested at minimum (or maximum) 7-8 hours and have time to talk and get to the bottom of this

And congrats on the pandemic cohabitation

Danny M. Lavery: yes! It’s hard to lose your job in a pandemic and it’s hard to have three jobs in a pandemic

and I want good sleep for both of you, and honestly also congratulate yourselves for not totally losing it at one another