We’re nearing the time in Western Alaska when the deepest darkness is upon us, but for me, it feels very similar to all the other days. Yes, the sun takes longer to rise each morning – today, for instance, it will rise at 11 AM and set at 4 PM – but since I’m in charge of the station from 5:30 AM, it’s been dark on my rising since I got to Nome. Running the early-morning show has been a lot of fun – I get to hear the crew picks first, and share inspirational thoughts with my radio listening friends just before 7 AM each day. But it also cuts into my social time – by about 7PM, I start getting tired, and I’m usually asleep by 9PM. Oddly, this means my sleep schedule hasn’t changed that much since living in the Eastern Time Zone – shift all my hours by four and you’ll have a pretty standard 9:30 – 4:30 EST schedule, with sleep about 1 AM EST.
That’s lots of numbers. But what do the numbers really mean?
I’m glad you asked. Getting a lower amount of sleep means that I am less willing to be social – as a borderline introvert/extrovert, I expend a small amount of personal energy to be social, and restock it when on my own or with close friends. Any one of the other volunteers counts as a close friend, but whenever we gather in groups larger than two, it starts taking additional energy to keep up. And my reserves are rather low, due to spending a lot of energy on being personable on the radio in the morning. I don’t get surly, but I do get reclusive. I’ll retreat to my room, to read or use the computer, and lose some socializing time that I would otherwise have.
But here’s the thing – when I need to recharge my internal batteries, the places I seek out are small and dark. Darkness, it seems, serves as a reminder of isolation, and thus helps me recharge. I know most people find the need to get out into the sunlight, but the dwindling sun actually seems to re-energize me, rather than drain me further. It’s come to the point that I’m no longer feeling tired around 7, and have to force myself to slow down and sleep – or I wake up without energy, instead of refreshed by sleep.
So, how early is too early?
Like most things, it depends. Too early is less than 7 hours of sleep for me. If I miss it one day, I’m more likely to get it the next. But, I then miss out on more things, so it’s a balancing act.
How do you do with darkness? Other people? What recharges your batteries? Let me know in the comments.