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Tatooine mornings (faking the sunrise)

We’ve wandered too far from home. Although our species evolved near the equator, we’ve migrated well beyond our natural habitat, colonizing the planet’s extreme northern and southern latitudes. And our bodies aren’t well-suited to handle this displacement.

More specifically, the short days of winter wreak havoc on our circadian rhythms, our internal clock. Typically, these rhythms wake us up at sunrise, then and settle us down at night. But when the days grow short, this clock compensates; soon, we feel tempted to sleep through the long nights.

Fifteen-hour naps don’t fly for the working man, unfortunately. To counteract the effect of winter’s too-short days, I use two gizmos. The first, a “light box”, does exactly what its name suggests. It pumps out 10000 lux of full-spectrum light, (supposedly) calibrated to imitate the sun’s wavelengths. By sitting in front of the light box first thing every morning, I trick my body into thinking the sun has risen.

The other device, a radiant space heater, produces a warm, orange light. It may not have clinical effects (like the light box does), but it’s a pleasant sensation, akin to a fire’s glow or the sun’s rays. Plus, it keeps me warm on cold winter mornings.

Together, these two gadgets help me to counteract seasonal affective disorder. I haul myself out of bed, plop down in front of them, and soak in the light while meditating or reading the news. Then, I’ll often keep the devices powered while I write or draw before work.

In other words, I remake the sun.