Good News for Fat People Who Can’t Sleep

If you’re a skinny person who sleeps like a baby for a solid 8 hours every night, then don’t even bother to read this. You don’t need my handy health tips and medical reassurance. At least, not at the moment.

In this house, watching evening TV is a normally-pleasant communal activity. The ritual of the Swiss news, the French news, the international news, the weather, more weather, a movie, a series or two usually keeps us going until the sun has long gone down. The big friendly TV is our window on the world and all the lights are blazing. We are alive and active. Sort of.

Dragging our sorry asses up to bed at about 11:00 (I’ve usually already fallen asleep on the couch) I am told not to snore, and then sleep overwhelms me until about 2:30 a.m.

 And then comes then comes that terrible bit.

Unless seriously jet-lagged, I have always taken this next hour or two of wakefulness as a physical and psychological failure. Tossing and turning, trying to read, worrying about the state of my sock drawer, anxious about being awake, hoping I manage to nod off before the sun comes up—I had thought was unnatural and seriously unhealthy.

I have now learned that I am the victim of light bulbs. Prehistoric, and even preindustrial, humans went to bed shortly after the sun went down or the candles ran out (depending on your wealth), you then slept for a bit. Then you indulged in a spot of dorveille. During the “watch” praying, interpreting your dreams, sex, writing, singing, meditation, visiting neighbours and burglary were popular activities. You then crawled back under the feathers until the sun came up. This, it seems, was healthy and natural.


So, that’s my first spot of good news. Lying awake in the middle of the night is GOOD for you.

And then it just gets better and better. In today’s paper a very large, lengthy and serious Danish study published in the JAMA has shown that people who have a body mass index of 27 (which means pleasantly plump in laymen’s terms) live longer than everyone else. They actually die less from everything!

Now this is cheerful information indeed. My two helpings of potatoes I had for supper and the banana cream ice-cream I’m now considering suddenly seem like healthy life-style choices.

Dusk is settling. I will prepare my Alpine herbal infusion and hit the sack. I will revel in my dorveille, and awake refreshed and relaxed for a day filled with bread and butter, pickled herring, frikadeller (meat balls), and leverpostej (liver paste). I’ve even put akvavit on my shopping list.

We all know the next study is going to show that the BMI number is completely irrelevant and it is their Viking food that is keeping the Danes all going forever. I’m one step ahead of them on this.



Joy Kundig

Joy Kündig-Manning est née en Angleterre et a vécu au Canada. Spécialisée dans la littérature anglaise du XVIIIe siècle, elle a travaillé comme traductrice, enseignante, et écrivaine. Mariée à un Suisse, elle est venue à Genève en 1977. Elle est très contente de tenir le premier blog du Temps en anglais!