I feel like I just woke up from a long winter’s nap. It was actually just a short spring afternoon snooze, but it might as well have been winter’s nap. Today was cloudy and cool with only a brief hint of sun. In fact, this is the first June I can remember where I turned on the heat in the morning! It wasn’t that cold, only three or four degrees below my normal winter temperature (though a whopping ten degrees below my normal summer temperature) but without the sun blasting through my windows, I couldn’t be sure the house would heat up on its own. In previous years, I just dealt with it by layering on clothes, but today I didn’t have the requisite fortitude. So I got lazy and turned on the heat for a few minutes this morning.
So why the afternooze? (I meant to write afternoon snooze, but I like the typo, so I’m claiming the word.)
I don’t exactly know why I napped. Tired, of course. The lack of sunshine, perhaps (the clouds parted for a second just now and the sun peeped out at me, putting the lie to my words). I’m probably to the age where I should be using lights in the afternoon on dark days to keep me and my brain awake as is recommended for those dealing with Sundowners Syndrome. I tend to think I’m still a decade or two away from having to deal with Sundowners. Although sundowning (growing tired, confused, agitated as the daylight dims) is often associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s, it can also appear in the elderly who show no signs of dementia. Researchers say it has to do with a disruption of circadian rhythms, the biological clock being out of sync, and/or a shrinking brain’s inability to cope with the stress of daily life.
I doubt I am so elderly that I need to worry about sundowners (since I spend so much time alone, though, would I even know if it’s an issue?), but there is no doubt I am sensitive to light and dark. I’m not as susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder as I was in my younger days, but my body does seem to want to shut down when it doesn’t get enough light.
And so I nap.
I also wake up inordinately early in the morning — at first light. This isn’t my choice, of course. I’d much prefer to sleep in, but ever since I moved here, I’ve seldom been able to sleep beyond sunrise. It’s as if my body decided that since I dragged it to a rural area, then by gum it would keep farmer’s hours!
Oh, well, at least I’m not complaining about the heat and too much sun, though I’m sure that will come. And then I’ll blame the heat for my afternooze.
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.