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Thinking for a cooler world

Gianna Gruen | Reporter's Log

Exploring the North – Sleep surrounded by ice

No matter where you are on the planet, in which country you live and where you’re reading these lines – once a day (at least), we all do the same thing – go to sleep. But some places offer more unusual environments than others to nod off. For instance, how about falling asleep surrounded by ice?

That’s exactly what I tried out at an ice hotel in Sweden. Even the idea of sleeping at about minus five degrees Celsius seems to awake some old evolutionary instincts (at least in people who are lucky enough to normally sleep in a warm bed at room temperatures around 20 degree plus). I actually felt a bit worried that I might not wake up (though the biologist in me knows all too well that if temperatures fall too far, you’ll just lose consciousness while sleeping and won’t even realize when you’re freezing to death). But I kept telling myself that all the other people who stayed here survived and that the polar sleeping bag will be warm enough.

It’s eerily quiet within each room in the hotel made of ice. That might be because of the contrast between sensual temperature feeling that tells me I must be outside, because it is so cold – and my auditive impression to be inside though. The rooms have actually no door, just a curtain and no bright light either. Just a more artistic green-bluish light installation that’s meant to imitate the Northern Lights. It’s an atmosphere that’s calming and oppressive at once.

Lying in the room of ice on a bed made of ice (and a fur in between), wrapped up like a caterpillar in the sleeping bag, I’m watching myself falling asleep, meticulously noting the temperature of all body parts. In fact, 95 percent feel warm. The only cold part is the one that is not covered by the sleeping bag – my face. I can pull the bag tight so only my eyes, mouth and nose are uncovered. It feels a bit like an ice cube wandering over my skin, slightly cooling the surface.

Of course if you’re really tired, you can doze off under any circumstances. And while asleep, I sometimes have brilliant ideas like pulling my cap over my eyes and my scarf over the mouth. Even the biologist in me learned a lesson – waking up in the night because the lower sleeping-side is too cold. You actually register that and clumsily crawl onto the other side and fall asleep again as if you were in you own bed at home.

So what’s next?

Is ice as a building material a (literally) cool idea? Find out soon!


March 9, 2013