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Senior Correspondent

It's that yearly time to put the clocks back one hour. I always dread it because daylight isn't saved in my personal world. Just the opposite happens to me. I lose precious hours of sunlight. I sleep through sunrise and the sunny morning because I have a circadian rhythm disorder known as DSPS (Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome). The only way I have found to stay asleep for 8 continuous hours is to go to sleep between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. I awaken between 11 a.m. and noon. I'm not alone. I'm on a listserve of those suffering from circadian rhythm disorders. We commiserate with one another about the difficulties of not fitting into the general society's awake/sleep pattern. A new organization has emerged that has a website at www.circadiansleepdisorders.org. If you aren't one with a circadian rhythm disorder, be grateful.

I'm not totally a night owl because I'm up for part of the day. I'm more like half a vampire. But the winter months weigh on my love of sunshine since waking up about noon will only give me less then 5 hours of sun a day. Night will fall relentlessly early until spring. On top of this, a wonderful leafy tree outside my bedroom window has started to lose leaves that won't re-grow for months. I begin to think of those who live in the upper north regions that go into long days of darkness, and often depression. Thankfully, southern California doesn't have cold, rainy, severe winters. And truth be told, our gardens are far from bare in the winter months with many trees that keep their leaves and colorful flowers.

Both sunlight and darkness are my friends, each with its own feeling to enjoy. But I wake up in the fall with an urgency to catch as much sunlight as I can before it prematurely dims and darkens. As the days shorten even more into December, I begin to long for the next spring and dream of the wonderful summer ahead with streaming sunlight until 8 and 9 p.m. The amount of time in the day remains the same, but summer days seem so much longer and happier.

I was raised on the East Coast where the four seasons were very distinct. There was a rhythm to the weather that we don't have in southern California. The colorful fall leaves were stupendous to see. I'm glad I experienced putting on heavy snowsuits and building tunnels in the snow. And it was joyous to watch the flowers and leaves reappear. There was an excitement in the air that yelled "Spring is coming."

To a much lesser degree, there is a rhythm to the changing of the seasons in southern California. But now my desire for spring and summer starts in the fall when we set the clocks back one hour.

Comments?? E-mail Suellen at ZimaTravels.com

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