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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.
mood: tired
music: Sierra Swan—Get Down To It


I've never lived in a climate like that (I would not survive a climate like that, which is the honest truth; I can hardly drag myself out of bed for sunny Italian days!). But wow, do you ever write about it beautifully! The bruises pooling and seeping beneath your eyes? Brilliant.

In some ways living through the winters up here is harder than it used to be, and in others it's easier. One knows it will end, at least :)


I'm not as far north as you, but I've certainly noticed the difference in suntime too. When I first moved to Berlin it was Summertime and I couldn't get used to the day being bright at 4:30 in the morning and staying bright till almost 11pm at night. It was so weird, but now I love Summer for that. But then like you said...the hammer comes and falls and takes daylight with it. I'm already missing it and not looking forward to the long, dark, bleak wintertime. Maybe we should both head South. How's Italy sound to you?


It sounds wonderful! Maybe Bethany (the commenter above) can house a whole bunch of us! :D

I think I'm finding this year hard because it doesn't look right. The temperatures are autumnal, the skies are grey, it's getting dark, BUT..... the trees are not looking at all autumny. If we had the brilliant leaves and an occasional blue, sunny, crisp day I'd cope better. It's the continuous stretch of "97-shades-of-grey" days that is wearing.

(Marie - who still should be out sailing, but who came home because she's tired of fog, chill, drizzle, wind and grey skies)

Well, welcome home :) I know what you mean about the 97-shades of grey...sometimes it feels like it will never end. And we don't have any autumn color down here either. Some of the trees have already dropped their leaves but we haven't had any bursts of glory from them beforehand, probably because there hasn't been any frost, it's still too warm, though today it dipped down to 10.

It's 8C as I type (at 11.30am!) Brrr....

We loved seeing the mushrooms out on the forest covered islands (tons and tons of them!) and the ljung (is that heather? I can't remember anymore) is stunning this year, but it's weird to see it all there with the summer flowers as well. And green trees full of leaves. Very strange...

But the lack of blue skies is killing me!

Yes, ljung is heather, and I bet it must look amazing when you see fields of it.

Blue skies today!! I hope you have them up by you! :)

Grey, grey, grey here. And one BLACK cloud. not a silver lining in sight :(

Then I'll blow it all up towards you. It's clouding up now, but I can still see small patches of blue.

I wonder if people who grow up in the North experience S.A.D. as much as those who move to the North. I don't think I could live up there.

I don't know...I've never seen any statistics on the subject, but maybe googling would come up with some.

It does have its compensations, though. It's not all darkness and rain :)

I don't think there's a connection. In our case, my husband comes from even further north than here (up near the north pole) and he suffers badly from SAD, though I bought a special light that I force him to use in winter and that has helped enormously.

I, on the other hand, hail from sunny Australia, where I lived for over 40 years. I've not had a problem adjusting to the dark months. Funnily enough, it's the very long hours of daylight (up to 20 hours daily) in summer that I can't cope with. Go figure :)

Autumn certainly descended upon us like a clap of thunder this year... it was COLD on #2's birthday and that was mid-August!

Well, we had a lot of colder/rainy/grey days but it didn't really start getting COLD until this past week.

Aren't we on the same latitude line or close? It's getting dark by 7:30 here now, and I've been feeling the lessening of light, the gathering of the dark. Let's go find a cave to curl up in. And possibly eat large hoards of chocolate. Either that--or decend upon Soliden and take it over while Elizabeth is doing her magic at Squam (aren't you sad you're not there? Next year, I swear I will be!)

I'm VERY sad I'm not there, and I'm sad for you that you're not! Somehow I thought you would be.

We're on the same latitude (longitude? I can't remember which) as Moscow, and Alaska :)


Oh, I understand and I only live in Kansas! I read an article in the NYTimes once about how humans actually used to hibernate with their farm aninmals in the winters (back when barns/houses were kinda the same thing). I think the concept needs to come back, but just with dogs and cats and things, not pigs!

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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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