September 11th, 2008



A new visitor to my blog made a comment today, mentioning the "hammer of the sleep gods" and wow, did that phrase ever strike me, and resonate all evening until I had a moment to sit down and write about it.

Living in Sweden or, I imagine, anywhere this far north, brings with it an increasing and desperate awareness of light. What the sun is doing or not doing, whether it is shining, was shining, will shine, becomes much more important to every day life than one would like to admit to.

In the springtime, the anticipation of the growing light is almost like a fever, it breeds an awareness of the world around you that is fervent and visceral. And in the fall, when the gradual darkening of the skies in the evening seems to speed up in what seems an unfair twist of balance, considering how slowly it appears to go in the opposite direction earlier in the year, the urge to hibernate often becomes overwhelming.

I catch more people yawning during work nowadays. Everyone's tired. The darkness seems to press down around our ears, sending us to ground, settling over us like a soothing murmur. The sleep hammer hits me every afternoon about the time I am leaving work, around dinner time, when I've consciously begun trying to wind myself down from a long and frenetic day at the office. Sometimes I think I might have to go lie down before I get in the car to drive home, the hammer descends so quickly. It really does hit hard, when it strikes: I can feel bruises pool and seep beneath my eyes and my cheekbones often feel sharper.

Unfortunately, it's pretty rare that I can give in to the sleep hammer in the evenings; there's simply too much to get done before actual bedtime arrives. And don't even get me started on how hard it is to get out of bed in the mornings now. Every degree of darkness added to the day doubles my desire for dormancy. Sleeping in is more attractive than ever.

I think I could den like a bear, snug and curled in the cave of my comforter, feeling the slow rush and whoosh as my pulse relaxes and lags, through the arc of darkness until the earth tilts and the sun returns.