Sunday, December 21, 2008


Happy Winter Solstice! Lately I have been feeling like hibernating. I get plenty of sleep at night but I'm still sleepy during the day and want to take naps. With the sun setting at about 5:00 pm and the rays of the sun low in the sky even at noon, the signals are pretty clear that it's time to slow down. I recently received a newsletter from Yoga Journal, which I subscribe to, giving the advice to resist the urge to hibernate and use vigorous Yoga to stay active in the winter months. While I enjoy Yoga and agree with most of the life-style ideas that go along with the physical practice, I strongly disagree with their vegetarian outlook and now also with this idea that we must resist our urges to rest more in the winter months. It's the way animals respond to the cold and less food being available and was probably the way humans behaved until they learned to control light by creating fire.

In her book, Lights Out, T.S. Wiley claims that hibernation studies have shown that learning and retention are enhanced in animals who are allowed to find respite from life and many studies have shown that sleep deprivation may lead to obesity. Just google "obesity sleep deprivation" for dozens of links to recent journal articles. This would corroborate Wiley's thesis that we are meant to crave carbs and get fat in the summer in preparation for winter, but then sleep it off bringing our bodies back to equilibrium.

Another good book on the subject of sleep is The Head Trip by Jeff Warren. I read this book last spring and meant to blog about it, but never got around to it. It's very thought-provoking. The book is actually about consciousness but for Warren sleep is a form of consciousness and not unconsciousness as we usually think of it. He has whole chapters on the various forms of sleep and semi-sleep situations. He considers it perfectly normal to have wakeful periods during the night and that is what hibernation must have been like for humans. They slept a lot, got up to eat now and then, went back to sleep, dozed, dreamt, and solved problems in their heads. Warren comments that in order to be truly awake, you have to have more natural sleep.

So it's almost 8:30 pm now. Time for me to start winding my day down, dim the lights, get into my jammies, turn the heat in the house down to 60 degrees, take my melatonin, turn off the lights, climb into my organic-cotton-knitted-sheeted bed with the down comforter, and hibernate for at least 9 hours. See ya!

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