diamond geezer

 Thursday, June 19, 2008

It deceives me every time. Daylight.

Here we are in the middle of summer, and daylight is everywhere. Nearly 17 hours of the stuff, daily, flooding the sky with brightness. Light enough for outdoor activities, light enough for evening walks, light enough for carrying out a million and one indoor tasks without the need for artificial illumination. Great isn't it? Well, maybe.

First thing in the morning, whenever I wake up, it's already definitely daylight. One look out of the window (ooh, brightness) and my subconscious judges that I must have overslept. Come on, I should be up and out and doing things, not wasting the day away in bed. There's no rest in midsummer, the day has already begun well before I'm ready.

And in the evening, so long as the sky's light, my brain is active. It thinks it should be doing something, anything, because it's definitely not bedtime yet. Six o'clock, merely late mid-afternoon. Seven o'clock, still plenty of daylight left to enjoy. Eight o'clock, not even slightly dark. Nine o'clock, maybe thinking possibly about the day finally drawing to a close. Or maybe not for another hour. Delayed bedtime can mean leading a more active lifestyle, but surviving on far less sleep to sustain it.

This time last year I was in Northumberland and the change of routine was more intense. Useful daylight until well after ten, delaying my biological winding down period before sleep. Not bedtime yet. And two years ago, way up in the Outer Hebrides, even more extreme. It was still possible to read outdoors at midnight, and the sun barely dipped below the horizon during the small hours. I felt as if my body never properly rested.

There's a price to pay for all this luxurious midsummer daylight, of course. In midwinter the curtain of dusk slams down mid-afternoon, advancing my evening mindset several hours prematurely. Ooh look, sunset already and I've still not left work. Five pm in December and my body's already winding down, but five pm in June and I'm still winding up. I ought to cram far more into my evenings during the summer months than I do.

Daylight's a grand astronomical squeezebox, stretching and compressing my body clock as the Earth spins in its orbit. And at this time of year in particular I'm left restless and on edge, subconsciously wondering why I'm not out getting more done. I suspect I'm suffering from Inverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. Extended evenings = emptier evenings. More daylight = more pressure. Delayed sunset = increased guilt. Endless late nights aren't always all they're cracked up to be.

Never mind, because next week the evenings start drawing in again. Daylight, I've got you on the run.


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