“For the night is dark and full of terrors.”

7 Feb

It’s winter, and like most people living in the upper latitudes of Earth, the sun doesn’t rise until much later in the day. Which means that it’s dark when I start work and that really saps your motivation to get going. Are we simply “solar powered?”

It doesn’t help that I wake up early (to coordinate with the East Coast of the US), but thanks to the wise sages of Arizona, we don’t follow daylight savings time, so the sun rises a little earlier here than most places. However, something about this winter has made it feel worse. I’m blaming the higher cloud cover. There’s not a hint of light until 7:15, so I’m spending the first hour of my day in this dark beckoning outside the windows.

I have two lamps in my bedroom office and even that still makes it feel like a cave. I’ve come to lighting two candles in salt rock holders (“releases positive ions!”) just to ward off the darkness outside. It’s not quite “seasonal affective disorder,” but it makes it rather uncomfortable to start my day in darkness.

As I’m writing this, the dawn is finally coming, and I’m feeling better already. Then again, my favorite radio show has a guest host, so that throws off my routine. 🙂

It does make me wonder–what is it about the sun that makes us feel better? Perhaps it’s just a natural reaction. As animals, we’re designed to function better during the day; you can see threats coming from a greater distance. Things are growing, it’s warmer… it’s nature’s alarm clock!

Even if you’re used to working at night, your body will adjust quickly back to sun time if you don’t keep with the same schedule. I guess from an evolutionary standpoint, in the upper latitudes, you wouldn’t be planting, it’s colder, you need to preserve your body heat… you’d want to sleep as much as possible and move around less. So why would you wake up before dawn?

It’s going to take a long time for the beast to adapt. However, I could be full of it–what do you think? Is S.A.D. just an illusion or is there a different reason why the night makes us uncomfortable? Let me know in the comments below!

7 Responses to ““For the night is dark and full of terrors.””

  1. rebecca s revels February 7, 2021 at 9:59 am #

    While I personally prefer to work during the day, I find a peace and comfort in the dark. Especially during summer months when it is more alive.

  2. Patti Aliventi February 7, 2021 at 11:13 am #

    I worked 8 years on third shift. Since I have always had trouble sleeping, it didn’t seem to bother me much, except when I startednot getting enough sleep during the day as well. Eventually I noticed things going downhill with my health, which was one of the reasons I stopped. In the winter I often came home in the early dawn when it was still dark and woke up around sunset.

  3. Silk Cords February 8, 2021 at 6:50 am #

    Good post. 🙂 I had to chuckle at the fist part because we’re dealing with the same late sunrise issues here. A combination of being on the Eastern bleeding edge of the time zone, and almost constant cloud cover, I suspect.

    As for SAD… I suspect like many things, it’s a combination of factors. The dark is just more gloomy to some, then there’s superstitions also which can quietly bounce around in the subconscious of people. A big factor that you missed though is that sunlight is essential for the body to naturally produce Vitamin D, which factors into physical and mental health on several levels.

    • albigensia February 8, 2021 at 8:04 am #

      Good point about the Vit D – thanks!

  4. joanne the geek February 8, 2021 at 7:13 am #

    I really love the darkness.

  5. Mal February 8, 2021 at 9:51 pm #

    Simple answer: vitamin D.
    A quick google search can confirm.

    I was/have been/am still(?) on night shift for years. It’s terrible and unnatural, honestly.

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