When I was in Rio recently, I stayed at a little B&B called The Rio Dolphin Inn, nestled between Copacabana and Ipanema. There were only two bedrooms, so the hosts (John and Cindy) had essentially opened up their home to travellers and so were innately very open-minded, generous and authentic people. We were lucky enough to be their last guests – after 28 years in Rio, John (originally a Texan) had decided it was time for a new sea change and they were moving to Maui in Hawaii. John and Cindy chose to live a very holistic, organic life and John had a very natural and philosophical take on things. We had a few chats but one piece of wisdom he shared really struck a chord. John said that, when he was a travel photographer and journalist, he always hated staying in hotel rooms because the heavy blinds and curtains kept the sun out in the morning. He liked to live in sync with nature and its rhythms as much as possible – this meant letting the sun wake him up rather than an alarm clock. The science backs it up! Studies have shown that exposure to sunlight helps to naturally regulate your body clock and gradually wake you up, improving energy levels and overall well being.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve been sleeping with the blinds up so that the sun gently wakes me up in the morning. Given it’s autumn and day light savings has ended, this means that I wake up about 15 – 20 minutes later than I probably should. But rolling over to see the light shining through my window instantly puts me in a better mood than the state of confused panic that usually sets in when my alarm clock goes off in the pitch black. There’s definitely something to be said for living in sync with nature – there’s a consistency and predictability to its simplicity. No matter where you are in this world (except maybe the Arctic Circle), or what time of year it is, whether you’re a city gal or a nomad in the Sahara, the sun will still rise and fall each day. I find that simple fact strangely reassuring.