From Iceland — The Art Of Sleep

The Art Of Sleep

Published July 13, 2010

The Art Of Sleep
Rex Beckett

As I walk to work every morning, I never cease to be amused by the
people on Laugavegur. There are two kinds, really. First there are the
people who clearly live here, who are going to work, walking at a steady
pace with a cigarette or coffee. Typical.
Then you have the group of North Face-clad, up-and-at-‘em
camera-clutchers who really want to get a head start on their day.
Invariably, they wind up looking completely befuddled and dismayed at
the lack of anything being open at the crack of 9:30. That’s what nobody
tells you before coming here: everything starts really, really late!
Stores don’t open before 10, at the earliest, and most restaurants only
start polishing the silverwear around 11. Unless these tourists have an
early morning day trip booked or are only coming back from last night’s
party, they should still be in bed.
A good friend recently came to visit me on her two-week long vacation
from work. She had no particular plans for her stay here and just wanted
to experience life in the city and take in some of the natural beauty
of the countryside. While I would get up early and head down to work,
she was still sleeping like a cat on opium on the couch. For the first
few days of her visit, she shamefully admitted that she kept sleeping
until noon. She also quickly realised that walking around the city in
the morning was essentially pointless, since there is pretty much
nothing to do. I thought this was a perfectly reasonable, considering
it’s rare that she could sleep in on a Monday, Tuesday AND Wednesday in a
row. I was completely jealous.
And what better way to spend ones vacation really? Many cultures regard
sleep as a flagrant indulgence that flouts convention and shows a lack
of responsibility or work ethic. To this I say boo-urns! Sleep is a
vital function that allows the body to regenerate and the mind to
defragment, allowing a person to be happier and more productive in their
waking life. Most of us, with our fast-paced, overworked lives, would
not turn down an extra few hours of sleep each night. Why shouldn’t we
then qualify unrestricted sleep as a legitimate form of vacationing?
There is so much pressure whenever you go on a holiday to “make the
most” of the time at your destination—meaning get your lazy bum out of
bed—but this might be the only little time you get off work all year to
rest and recuperate. The fact that everything opens so late in this
country permits one to turn off their alarm and get some extra sleep,
guilt free. While some visitors may find Reykjavík’s lack of punctuality
a frustrating cock-block to their travel plans, I suggest they try to
appreciate the alternative.

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