i Editor's Letter: Waking up in the dark is bad for you


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The Independent Online


If, like me, you loathe life under artificial light, rejoice. Today brings the earliest sunset of the year (3.25pm in  Aberdeen, 3.51pm London) and next  Saturday, 21st, we can celebrate the shortest day: 6 hours 17 minutes long in Thurso, stretching to a balmy 7h57 in Devon and Cornwall.

Waking up in the dark is bad for you. Or more specifically, “social jetlag” is bad for you - that’s the difference between when you are obliged to wake and when you would otherwise naturally awake. With no alarm going off or kids scampering about downstairs, we wake up naturally depending on the amount of light and our circadian rhythm. (There’s an interesting New Yorker blog at tinyurl.com/n232w2k if you want to read more.)

Till Roenneberg, a professor of chronobiology at Muncih’s Ludwig-Maximilians University, says that sleeping and waking at unnatural times  “could be the most prevalent high-risk behaviour in modern society”. He links it to higher use of cigarettes, smoking and caffeine, obesity and a raft of chronic diseases.

So don’t set the alarm early, only to keep hitting snooze for an hour. Just set it later. Treat yourself.


I would have laughed if I’d been told, in April 2010, that Nick Clegg would be in Downing Street within three weeks. It’s easy to forget that the UK faced political and economic instability unless he hopped under the covers with the Conservatives. Nevertheless, his party will soon be judged on its performance in office.

How does he plan to win voters’ trust ahead of the next election? Does he think he knows more about people in the “real world” than David Cameron? Have he and the Lib Dems fared badly out of the Coalition? Will he stay in politics after the next election?

The Deputy Prime Minister has agreed to take questions from i readers - this is your chance to put him on the spot over his record in office.

I’ve already heard from former Lib Dem voters such as Russ Clapham in north London (Russ, your question’s on the longlist), students, pensioners and an angry working mother who want answers.

Ed Miliband’s answers to your questions, meanwhile, will be published in tomorrow’s i.


Bidding on our charity auction lots ends at 11am. The proceeds from these unique prizes go to the anti-poaching charity Space for Giants, which is trying to protect the last of Earth’s colossi from being slaughtered and turned into Chinese trinkets and aphrodisiacs.


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