Thursday, July 1, 2010

Simple facts

I'm a little frazzled and edgy today, the reason being that I'm not sleeping well. And the reason for that in turn is simple: sunrise. I'm always caught a little off-guard at this time of year by the long days. They are wonderful aren't they? But long days imply either early sunrise, late sunset, or both. Early sunrise can be a great thing if you're a farmer readying to milk the cows, a hiker wanting to make as much progress as possible during the cool early daylight hours, or possibly a rodent eager to gather nuts. Late sunset of course means long leisurely nights out.

Less extreme than sleep deprivation, but more insidious, is confusion and disorientation. With years of habits we come to associate certain feelings and activities with certain levels of light. You wake up feelingly like you've just gone to sleep (and you have) -- it should be dark. You're out having far too many drinks after dinner and stumbling home -- it should be dark. You arrive at your first appointment for the day -- it should be light.

One of my vivid memories of my year in London was waking up to broad daylight, feeling tired, and then discovering it wasn't yet 5 am. These are the simple facts as of 1 July:

City Sunrise Sunset Daylight hours
New York 05:29 20:31 15:02
London 04:47 21:21 16:34
Paris 05:51 21:58 16:07
Mumbai 06:05 19:20 13:15

It explains everything, doesn't it? In New York, nights out are dark at this time of year, and I wake up as the sun is on the rise (I'm afflicted with a serious case of early rising.) In London, sun rises at 4.47 am. How does one cope with this? Are drapes heavier? Are sales of eye masks one per man, woman, and child? And Paris, sunset almost 10 pm, with dusk taking you to almost 10.30 pm, those long endless evenings. They were not just figments of your imagination. They really happened. (Well, at least the light. For the rest, I can't say.) And Mumbai, sunrise 6 am. Memories of being woken by the parents as they make their way to play tennis, and deciding since I'm awake and won't get back to sleep I might as well go. Listening to the morning birds. Watching (being blinded by) the rising sun as the game plays out.

It all makes sense.




Anonymous said...

This is why Italians use shutters, sleep has to be taken seriuosly. I really feel for you, every time I travel north in the summer I feel totally confused.

Mia's sister

Bombay Beauty said...

Exactly! That is why I slept so well in Italy (and even here in Germany when visiting a friend...) xo BB

If Jane said...

aiiiie! anyway let,s hope it gets regulated soon!

ps..pls come to my blog to accept your award....;)) xx

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

"(Well, at least the light. For the rest, I can't say.)"

Yes that sums up a summer evening in Paris.

I also have shutters but I don't think this is normal in London bedrooms. Black out curtain lining is normal I suppose, but that's only if you're posh enough to have proper lined curtains that aren't from Ikea - i.e. no one under the age of 50 has these. I only suffer the other way round though - in winter when there's not enough light I feel sad and hopeless. Boo hoo.

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