New cave mission: Dark after dusk

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I haven’t been as active on this blog lately, but rest assured I have been cavemanning. And I feel great for it.

Well, I haven’t felt equally great at all times. I had a spot of difficulty earlier when I was sick with something that seemed likely to be the nasty norovirus that has hit Canada and the U.K. this winter. You do not want me to describe it. How does a caveman cope with illness? With plenty of juice, plus plenty of the only soup I could find without weird ingredients and a ton of added salt. I forget the brand name but I’ll post it later. It was the tomato and leek.

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Oh, and lots of tea and television.

Which brings me to the reason for this post: To announce my mission for March. All this month, I’ll be dimming the artificial light as of dusk.

Why? Because I’ve traditionally been a terrible sleeper, particularly in March and April as the days lengthen. I’m looking for a solution in the fact that our ancestors lived in a world where darkness could not be chased away with the flick of a switch. As I wrote in the National Post last year in a piece about sleep patterns:

Lighting and caffeinated beverages promoted active, chatty evenings. This, historians believe, believe pushed back the Western world’s bedtime … 

In the course of writing that piece, I got a bit of a scolding from Charles Samuels, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary. He said my late-night web browsing, TV watching (and drinking) were likely causing my insomnia. I learned that bright light after dusk can also be a barrier to a solid night of rest.

So for March, I’m dimming the lights after dusk, and staying away from artificial screens — that means no TV, Internet, going to the movies, et cetera. I won’t be stumbling around in darkness, but I’m also avoiding staring at bright light.

Music, socializing, reading by subdued light and other activities that aren’t overly visually stimulating are permitted. (Especially music and socializing: They have presumably been part of the round-the-fire, after-dinner human way of life since the beginning.)

Thus far I’m finding I am getting sleepy sooner — around 10 instead of midnight. Updates to follow.

Meanwhile, not being a couch potato gives a guy a lot of time. Last night I hung a picture, took a bath, practised the bass guitar, read for a while, meditated, tidied my room a bit, spent extra time at the gym, prepared a nice meal, snacked less than usual, drew the picture at the top of this post, and still got to bed early. A caveman has a lot of productive time in the evenings.

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