The smell of approaching winter is in the air.  Fall is wrapping itself around your feet, causing you to move a little faster.  The days are getting shorter.  And perhaps you are getting a little lazier.  Perhaps when the alarm goes off, all you want to do is curl up under the covers just a little bit longer.

It is time to hibernate, baby.

And for some reason, we are just SO STUBBORN about obeying nature's clock.  We want to live like it is summer every day of the year.  We keep our lights bright until midnight, refusing to go to sleep until we have squeezed every drop of activity out of ourselves.  We still think we need to go, go, go.

Stop that.

Historically winter was a time when there was less to do.  The days were shorter, and before the electric light that meant you couldn't work as late.  It meant that you ended up going to bed earlier because, after all, how long can you really sit around a candle or a fire before you just feel like you might as well turn in.

In most of humanity's existence winter was a time when hunting was a bit scarcer and gathering was almost non-existent.  It was a time where we relied on our dried food stores, and curled up with our community to conserve our energy.  Moving more meant needing to eat more.  And eating more meant more food.  But since there wasn't more food, you better just settle down Mister.  No need to expend a lot of energy unless we have to.

But these days the shelves are full at the grocery store no matter what month it is.  The false sun is up any hour you like, at the flip of a switch.  So we think we should be putting out the same amount of effort that we do when the days are long.

But your body might not agree with you.

Did you know that your metabolism is actually FASTER in the winter, and SLOWER in the summer?  In summer, your body knows that winter is coming, so it needs to store up as much fat as possible.  So you are also encouraged to eat as much carbohydrate as you can, to quickly turn that in to fat.  But in winter your body knows it needs to keep warm, so it speeds up, and burns up the fat.  Your own little internal fireplace.

Here's the thing though.  We keep telling our bodies that it is summer.  We keep our days long and bright like summer days.  We push ourselves hard like harvest time.  And so our body thinks, oh, winter must be lurking around the corner.  We better continue to store fat.  Because someday that winter is going to come, and I better be prepared.  But we never let winter come, so we continue to store up fat.  And exhaust ourelves as well.

Your body is used to the natural ebbs and flows of the seasons.  There is a time to work hard, and a time to rest.  There is a time to give it all you got, and a time to just be lazy and enjoy the company of friends and family.  That is the way we are optimized to work.  But when we push ourselves like it is summer all the time, we stress out our bodies.  We get fat.  We get sick.  We get heart disease, and burnout, and depression, and on and on.  And we aren't very happy.

Welcome to winter.  It is time to hibernate.  It is time to enjoy yourself and your friends and your family.  It is time to take it easy.  Time to go to bed early and sleep in late.  Yes!  Sleep for 12 hours at at time if you like!  Don't worry, you will balance it out in the summer.  Because if you give yourself the chance to really rest, it means you are also giving yourself the chance to really produce.  But that will come in its own time, when the light returns.

Your body knows what it is doing.  Would you just listen to it?  Give it a rest!  And turn off that light!  Let winter come and embrace you, and enjoy the winter for the gifts that it brings.  You might just find more joy, and more health, in the darkness.



Props to the book Lights Out:  Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, for teaching me a bit more about this whole thang.