A popular and sensible trend in the food industry is eating in season. Eating locally what’s available because it’s natural and grown in an organic manner not engineered or mass produced.
When I worked in Anchorage I thought about this a lot and how a similar concept pertains to our sleep wake cycles. In our modern day many of us think of our sleep-wake cycle in a narrow 24-hour scale when really, a longer scale is needed to fully conceptualize natural rhythms.
In Anchorage in the middle of summer the sun is out til almost midnight and comes up again a little after 4 am. There is so much daylight in the summer all of the plants are freakishly giant versions of the ones I knew growing up in OH. People in AK joke that you can literally watch plants grow. It isn’t just the elapsed time but the intensity of light. I used to tell my husband summer in Anchorage feels like being in Vegas, the light is disorienting in a similar way if you aren’t used to it. In winter the sun shines only for a little over 5 hours from around 10 am to 3:45 pm. It’s also bitter cold and snowy.
When I would tell people in Seattle that I flew to Anchorage every month for work they would remark how much they love Alaska but would say they could never live there because of the extremes in the light dark cycle.
After awhile I found that to be ironic because it seemed to me that the effects were so extreme people were forced to adapt to the seasonal changes and therefore didn’t have more problems sleeping than elsewhere. A lot of people in Alaska seem to take advantage of the summers, being extraordinarily productive and active – but then hunker down and relax in the winter, almost like a mini-hibernation.
I think we should all be sleeping “in season.” The decreased daylight does have an impact on our sleep wake cycle and perhaps we were intended to sleep more and rest more during winter. The function of it being quality time with family and social cohesion.
So tonight grab a cup of hot decaf tea, chillax, and embrace the season. #sleepinseason