Circadian Rhythms in Time to a Distant Beat? Maybe It's Coming from Mexico
The dawn breaks. A woman sits up, luxuriously stretches and rises out of bed, ready to seize the day.
That woman is not me.
Here is me. The cell phone alarm goes off and I swipe at it blindly until I knock the glass of water over on the bedside table and then finally sweep the phone off the table to fall apart on the tile floor.
Still moaning, it rises, like a scene cut from Dawn of the Dead, doing the stiff-legged somnolent shuffle that all the other zombies do until it finally reaches the kitchen, takes one last blank look at the bed then continues its march toward the light.
It lurches toward the bathroom, almost misses the toilet seat and with the dexterity characteristic of the living dead, it unwinds half a roll of toilet paper on to the floor. Grasping the towel rod, it launches itself into the shower in a last attempt to save itself.
Judging by all the articles I see, many of us have “a sleep problem."
What we really have is a work problem.
But happier days were ahead of me. One of the things about Mexico that I didn't anticipate was the later schedule.
The noise from construction workers at my building next door to mine in Mexico last year didn't start until 9:00 a.m. as opposed to 7:00 am in the morning in Denver.
Week-end evening get togethers start later and go later. Even in my age crowd, they show up after 8:00.
Just this two hour later difference between what I have to live with in the States and Mexico's time-schedule makes a big difference in my life.
I am convinced that individual are wired a certain way. If our wiring doesn’t happen to match society’s grid, we spend our whole lives trying to mash ourselves into an acceptable sleep schedule for our jobs.
I eat dinner at mid-night. I work until 2:00 A.M sometimes (or I confess, watch a movie). But I, and maybe you, are far from alone. Many celebrities themselves have bizarre sleep patterns.
Many of my friends suffer from insomnia. Some smoke pot. Some take Ambien. One I know, if she can’t sleep by 2:00 a.m., goes downstairs and throws back two shots of vodka.
I have tried everything; nature sound tapes, exercise, anti-depressant drugs, religious podcasts and herbal teas.
I would love to be one of those people on the right clock, the respectable clock, getting up at dawn.
I simply work better bathed in the glow of lamps than in the harsh light of day.
Is the "normal" schedule more natural?
Our forebears, before the invention of artificial light, woke up in the gloaming hours to meditate and pray and then returned to bed. From what I have seen of Shakespeare, they wrote soliloquies so it seems to have potential as a useful hour.
Today many of us have to conform to society in a fitful, miserable struggle against ourselves.
If you are a nocturnal person and living and working in Mexico, you won’t be constantly wide-awake and on the upswing while the rest of the world sinks into a sofa.
If you know any night owls who are suffering, pass it along :)
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