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.
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.
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.