Campus Life advice

Sleeping around

Auntie Matter on shut-eye, ‘ghosting,’ and STDs

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Patricia Gao

If you have questions for Auntie Matter, please submit them at

Dear Auntie Matter,

I can't wake up for morning classes. I've tried sending emails to my dorm asking for wake-up calls, I usually wake up and answer them, but then go back to sleep. I set multiple alarms but then ignore them all. I'm really worried because I have two morning classes this spring that have mandatory attendance. Please help! — Alarmed

Dear Alarmed,

I will suggest a few technical solutions, but for reasons I will outline below, I doubt they will help. Regardless, they follow.

Download an alarm that forces you to solve math problems, set an alarm across the room so you have to stand up every time it rings, don’t live in a single room so you have a partner who will wake you up aggressively, have a series of hookups who will wake you up aggressively, engineer the fire alarm in your dorm to go off every morning when you must wake up, change your class schedule, etc.

Technical solutions aside, I think there’s an underlying issue here. I suspect three main possibilities — either you have a mental health issue, a physical issue with your sleep, or you are just not getting enough “zzz’s.”

First: How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? What causes you to go lie down again after you’ve gotten up to answer the wake-up calls? What appears to be laziness can actually be caused by anxiety or unhappiness. At the least you might talk to your friends, and if you like, counseling at MIT Medical is free to students.  

Second: How well do you sleep? Is your sleeping environment good? Do you practice good sleep hygiene? Are there any underlying physical health issues that prevent you from sleeping well? If you think that might be the case, you should talk to a doctor about it.

Third: Are you getting enough sleep? If you are so tired that your body forces you to fall back asleep even after many alarms and wake-up calls, perhaps you are overcommitted in your daytime hours. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in the day. If you are alotting more than 16 of them to waking activities, you should reconsider. “You need your beauty sleep,” etc.

Dear Auntie Matter,

I gave my new boyfriend herpes and it spread to all his roomates. He keeps telling me he isn't sleeping with any of them, but I now know better. We had a big fight about it at Georgetown Cupcakes because he feels I should have told him about having contracted it even though we used a condom. Should I ghost him or stick it out? — Sore

Dear Sore,

Did your boyfriend admit to sleeping with his roommates? My sources tell me that many adults have (at least oral) herpes. Your man still has some plausible deniability here.

Regardless, your options are not limited to staying with this young man, or as you say “ghosting” him. You should aim to be proud of your conduct in all situations; would you be proud of ghosting someone? If you break up with him, which perhaps you should do if he did in fact sleep with all of his roommates (displaying not only infidelity but also exceedingly poor judgement) you should do so in a respectful manner. You owe this good conduct to yourself.

Also, if you really wanted this person to be your boyfriend, perhaps you ought to have trusted him with the information that you had contracted herpes. In fact, if you have herpes, you ought to tell your partners, full stop.

Gentle readers, if you are unsure of your STD status, get tested. And don’t “ghost” people. Good lord.