Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ob Hill, Sleep

I didn't think it could get any darker, but we haven't had any moon for the last week or so, and it's like the bottom of a white-painted well. With all the snow on the sea ice and ice shelf, the meager light of stars and planets is reflected, so it never really gets pitch dark. There are a lot of street lights in McMurdo, so there is a lot of light pollution. With all this darkness, I'm finding that my sleep patterns have started to suffer. I have had mild insomnia for most of the time here. I usually go to bed and sleep well for about four hours, toss and turn for a couple of hours, then sleep okay until my alarm goes off. I frequently have spectacular, technicolor dreams during those last couple of sleep hours. I have had some great flying dreams, and some that seem more real than reality. Spooky. Most days I have a hard time making it all the way through without a nap. I haven't read up on the latest research on light depravation, but based on my own experience, I think my body is trying to establish a new cycle. I bet if I had no job or other commitments, and slept when I felt like it, I would sleep for four hours, be up for four hours, sleep for four hours...

We normally have only one-day weekends, but we get a two day weekend on the first weekend of the month. This, thank God, was our two-day weekend. Not a minute too soon. I got up at a descent hour on Saturday morning, and had an urge to go for a hike. I put on my ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear, and headed out. I walked down to Scott's Discovery Hut on Hut Point, and then back through town to Ob (Observation) Hill. It was dark, slick, and windy, but I made it to the top. I'm so glad I did that-- it is all too easy to get sucked into the inertia of reading and napping with no exercise on weekends. If any of you find some interesting research on circadian rhythms and light depravation, please pass it on. Thanks,


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