How do Swedes Sleep in Summer? Part 2

Posted by Maria on June 24, 2009 under Homespunspa, Sleep, Uncategorized | 3 Comments to Read

How does a Swede sleep in summer? To answer this deep, philosophical question,
I decided to go straight to the source — Facebook. I have two friends who are currently living in Sweden, one is a native and one just moved there, and they said it was OK for me to post their wisdom on my blog.

This is what Erik said:

The solstice celebration is our most beloved (and heathen) event all year. Noone has any trouble sleeping given that the celebration is coupled with eating small pieces of herring, singing, and drinking unhealthy amounts of schnapps. Most people literally fall into deep sleep regardless of the light. If for some reason, one is awake it’s because of love. Either one is in love and with the person and doesn’t need sleep. Or one is unhappily in love and can’t sleep because of that reason, no matter how light or dark. Further, we generally don’t sleep as much in the summer. We maybe cut an hour or two off the our regular sleep. There’s too much fun to be had. So, you see, we solve the light question by pragmatics.

Kidding aside, we are quite used to the changing seasons and varying light conditions. We are taught early to sleep in a cool (north facing – architectural know how), dark (dark black window shades – IKEA has em), and well ventilated (window open) room. That and going to bed at regular times does the trick.

And this is what Roma said:

All is well here. Finally it is warmer and sunny outside, and so I’ve been trying to make the most of the nice weather. I couldn’t think of any clever tips to get a good nights sleep, and I asked a few people, but no one had anything special to say. What I DO suggest though, and what everyone here in Sweden uses, are blackout blinds. When the sun rises at 3:30 am and sets at 11, and the rest of the *night is barely dark, the blinds REALLY come in handy. Swedes also use two duvet covers instead of one. What I mean by that (and you could probably see it on the IKEA (SWEDEN) website in the bedroom photos), is that they take one duvet and fold it in half, and place it on one side of the bed, and do the same on the other. That way you can have your own and not have to fight over the covers in the middle of the night with your partner. I think that that’s a great idea. They then cover both duvets with some throw or something so that it looks uniform.

Not sure if that helped any, but they are definitely two things I’ve noticed here.

Funny. Both of them mentioned IKEA. But neither of them mentioned ABBA.

I think having a North-facing bedroom is good because northern light is a little bit bluer and cooler than the others which might make sleeping in summer easier. I also think that double-duvet idea is brilliant. It solves an age old tug of war. I don’t know why the rest of us don’t do that — but I’m sure someone out there is going to try it.

Thank you so much Roma and Erik for your enlightening thoughts! Skål!

How do Swedes Sleep in Summer?

Posted by Maria on June 21, 2009 under Books, Magazines, Music, Homespunspa, Photo gallery, Sleep, Uncategorized | 5 Comments to Read

June 21st is one of my favourite days of the year. I wish the whole world celebrated the summer solstice as enthusiastically as the Scandinavians and some First Nations do. I was lucky enough to be invited to a backyard BBQ last night on midsummer’s eve-eve and at this time of year in Victoria, British Columbia, the sun sets after 9:00pm and stays light out till around 10:00pm.

Experiencing a midnight sun for myself with my own eyes has been a dream of mine ever since I studied medieval Icelandic literature in university. While I was taking that class, my father went to Iceland for work and was given a book, Iceland, a portrait of its land and people, text and pictures by Hjalmar R. Bardarson, which he gave to me (like he had a choice) and it only seems fitting (as a happy father’s day moment to my late father) that I use one of the photos from the book to demonstrate the arc of the midnight sun in this post.

This series of pictures of the midnight sun was taken from Iceland between June 8 & 9, 1980 by Hjalmar R. Bardarson.

This series of pictures of the midnight sun was taken from Iceland between June 8 & 9, 1980 by Hjalmar R. Bardarson.

Pretty cool eh?

This whole idea of summer solstice got me thinking about insomniacs. How do people catch their zzz’s when the sun is shining? I personally have a lighthearted memory of when I was 4 or 5 years old, of my parents insisting that my brother and I go to bed when it was clear to us that it was too early to hit the sheets at around 8:00pm. We thought they were trying to pull the wool over our eyes so we stalled and stalled — can I have another glass of water, oops I forgot to brush my teeth, are you sure your watch is right? — till finally it was dark enough to go to bed.

So if you’re resisting going into the land of slumber like I did when I was a kid, here are my tips on what you can do to get some shut-eye during the bright nights of summer.

1) Get into the habit of taking an evening walk through your neighbourhood or in a park or on the beach to get some fresh air and to spend that last bit of energy from your day. Take your dog and a friend and your camera.

2) Keep a regular sleep time routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day as best you can — I know that’s hard, especially for the social butterflies out there.

3) Freshen up your bedroom with crisp, clean, cool linens and keep the space dark with blinds, curtains and window treatments. Now is not the time for cozy clutter.

4) If, like me, you don’t have blinds covering your windows, buy or make some eyeshades like you get on the airlines to block out the light. Ask me about Homespunspa’s satin eyemasks that come with pockets so you can add some scented tea bags for further relaxation. They’re $12 CAD plus shipping.

Homespunspa eye mask with lavender sachets, $12 CAD plus shipping.

Homespunspa eye mask with lavender sachets, $12 CAD plus shipping.

and 5) Listen to Swedish music. If nothing else, it will make you smile.

If you have any tips on how to sleep in the sunlight, by all means, send me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.


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