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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Light is a Trickster

The light fools everybody in the summer. At 10:30 last night, I could have read a book by the window. In places south of Alaska, light and darkness are more predictable, and don’t change as much and in summer, light has to be artificially adjusted with Daylight Savings Time. Not here. The speed of light increasing (and then decreasing) is breathtaking. I think it also messes with our heads and our bodies in all kinds of ways. Even people who have lived in Alaska for a long time have trouble sleeping when the light seeps in at 3 or 4 in the morning. That is usually when I put on my eye mask even though we have good shades AND a dark curtain around our bed alcove. Amazingly, the light in the very early morning doesn’t bother some people, but for most of us, it definitely has a wakey wakey affect.

We have no idea how these rapid shifts in light really affect us. Our bodies have to make adjustments every day as the light decreases or increases. It is NEVER THE SAME. I met somebody today who said he was pissed off all of the time as it got lighter and lighter and then had one of those forehead slapping moments – that what he was experiencing was sleep deprivation – because when you don’t get enough sleep, you do get pissed off. And if you don’t shield yourself from light, you won’t get enough sleep in the summer in Alaska. It doesn’t help that the light gives you energy and you think you don’t need as much sleep as usual. You do. You just think you don’t. And you think you don’t because your judgment is compromised by the, dare I say it, overabundance of light.

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