Well, it’s all downhill from here… kind of. How did you take advantage of this past Saturday, AKA the Summer Solstice, AKA the first day of summer, and, most significantly, the longest day of the year?
How did you take advantage of those extra few minutes of glorious summer weather? Did you check out the Ball Hall’s induction or the funfest downtown? Do some extra gardening or enjoy an extra beverage on a patio? Did you, like a particular columnist, probably pack in too much activity on the whole, thanks to her in-laws taking care of her beloved daughter all weekend?
Something about these summer days — and impending school and family vacations — make it so easy to forget about the clock. Time always flies when you’re having fun, and when the sun sets well past 9 p.m., misjudging the hours and minutes is forgivable. It’s OK, though; it’s now summertime and the living is supposed to be easy.
But should this apply to bedtime as well? Last summer, Andrew and I got into quite a pickle with Charlotte’s sleeping habits. Wanting to squeeze as much summer fun into our days, her bedtime drifted from 7:30 sharp to an eye-rubbing, evening-killing 10 p.m. While we’ve nipped it in the bud so far — lights out by 8 p.m. — we find ourselves staying up far too late to face our girl with bright eyes when she’s bushy-tailed at 6:30 a.m.
There are some nights when we have to be up late due to the time-sensitive nature of work. There are also the social occasions when having fun gets in the way of sleep. But routine is good for adults, too: having a regular bedtime makes falling asleep that much easier, not to mention waking up. There are studies coming out daily on how sleep is important in maintaining IQ points and a healthy weight. Then there’s the emotional benefit of getting enough sleep: no one likes a sleep-deprived zombie.
Numerous discussions and experience have illustrated to Andrew and I that 10:30 is our ideal bedtime. Yet, as the clock ticks away, are we winding down, washing up and mentally unplugging for the day? You know the answer already. There’s always that one last load of laundry to fold, a cellphone charger to find, or some impending-yet-menial task that could well wait until tomorrow… except it can’t.
There’s a good chance you’re wearily nodding in agreement; take solace in knowing that you’re not the only one who delays sleeping despite knowing better. In the latest “duh” research, scientists in the Netherlands have coined the term “bedtime procrastination” after surveying 174 people on their bedtime habits.
Most of the subjects reported feeling tired often throughout the week, as did those in a subsequent Dutch study on the same matter.
Both groups of researchers concluded that the worst bedtime procrastinators have poor self-control issues in other areas of life, such as giving in to a cookie when trying to lose weight. While unexpected events like a sick child can delay bedtime, most of us put off hitting the hay for less noble reasons like TV or Internet.
I suppose that awareness is the first step toward recovery. But the days are already starting to get shorter, and after a horrifying winter that still feels so fresh in our minds, every sun-filled minute that’s above the freezing point feels like a true gift not to be wasted. We have earned the right to make the most of the glorious days that lie ahead… even if that means interspersing the hours with a few yawns. I’ll sleep come fall, thank you very much!
Potato salad is that quintessential summer food. Sometimes the creamy versions can feel heavy in the heat, not to mention concerns about dairy and eggs sitting out in the sun; here’s a vinaigrette-based version.
Potato Salad with Bacon and Grainy Mustard
(from House & Home, July 2014)
2 lb. mini potatoes
6 oz. thick-cut smoked bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place potatoes in medium pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to boil over high heat. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Spread on baking sheet to cool, then cut in half lengthwise.
Cut bacon into quarter-inch pieces, and place in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Let cool on paper-towel lined plate.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk garlic, mustards and vinegar together. Slowly whisk in oil until thick and emulsified. Add potatoes, bacon and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Serve at room temperature.
Serves six to eight.