Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heliotropism or Turning Towards Daylight: Resolution #2.

We aren't quite as far north as Moscow, but we're still north of Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham. For those of us who live in the Northern Latitudes, the winter solstice (which was around midnight Friday) marks the turning point towards longer days. This is good--even though the rate of increase is only about a minute a day.

The last month has been difficult. It always is. As is usually the next. Our internal biological clocks run askew until our circadian rhythm has no rhythm at all but lurches and bumps along until one no longer knows when to be asleep or when to be awake. Pulling all-nighters and cat-napping become the norm, if somewhat unsettling. For one does need to interact with the schedules of the outside world, even though the shortest day is only 7 1/2 hours.

Not having any morning commitments outside the house only aggravates the situation. There are no external cues to coerce compliance. My husband, who must be out of the house by seven a.m. (and six on Saturdays) finds himself dragging at this time of year, his sleep compressed to a few hours a night as the children and I don't settle until the wee hours. I wish I was exaggerating.

The week before last we were all up until 2 or 3 am. That's when I decided that this week, from Monday to Friday, we would get up with the husband and drive him to work. (We became a one car family in September.) But then, exhausted, we would come home and sleep until noon. After four days, it was possible to stay awake on the fifth (though my son did climb back into bed for an hour). But things are not yet back to anything like normal. We slept in 'til 10am this morning. (And the puppy waited patiently. I was so impressed. He was in the house for about 12 hours without an accident.)

Until last week, I had no hope. I had thought our biological clocks ran on a 25 hour cycle, which meant that we would always be fighting our natural inclination to successively sleep and wake an hour later every day. My son has always had tremendous difficulties with sleeping on a consistent schedule....and I thought it only natural.

But I had out-of-date information. Apparently our biological clocks do re-set every 24 hours. And the best way to wind up the clock, it seems, it to expose oneself to a boost of sunlight in the early afternoon, every day. The light affects the regulation and production of melatonin, which, as we all know, is essential for sleep. Insulin levels also play a role, so switching our diet over to more low glycemic foods will also help.

So, creativity resolution #2 is this: We will get outside every afternoon, rain or shine. It doesn't sound like much, and I'm not sure I'm going to report it everyday. I'm not even sure how long we'll go out for, nor do I know when I'm going to implement it.

Today I had my son take the dog out until the dog wanted to come in (it was only minus 11 C, so it seemed reasonable). Tomorrow, I think we should all go. It's a bit of a challenge with the husband, though. He likes to go for Walks--at least an hour or so, and I just don't have the time or inclination for that. But a tour around the block might give us all a good night's sleep.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.
(image from here)

1 comment :

scb said...

Good idea. Walkies (but not a capital W Walk) every day is very good. Hope this works for you!!!

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