Living in the arctic during the winter is a very unique experience. Besides the extreme cold, snow drifts, and blizzards, you also have to deal with continuous darkness. Where I live the sun does not fully rise for about a month beginning with the winter solstice. After continuous darkness for the past month, I am so glad to see the sun rise all the way over the horizon.
Back in December the sun began to rise later and set earlier at a rapid pace until we reached the winter solstice. Then, for the next 28 days we only saw the glow on the horizon around 2 in the afternoon. Now the sun is slowly coming back and staying for a few hours during the day.
It is so strange to wake up on the weekend, goof off around the house, and head out around 11 in the morning while everything is still in complete darkness. It made me want to lay in bed all morning waiting for the sun even though I knew it wouldn’t come. When I would take my lunch break at work and it was still pitch black outside, it seemed so weird to me.
If you remember, this past summer I wrote about how the sun did not set for a month and how confusing that can be. Well, I was really worried about the effects of having no sun for a month during the winter. I was expecting it to be a lot worse experience than it actually had been. I knew that a little sunlight is important for your body to make Vitamin D and that a deficiency of Vitamin D can cause many health concerns.
A while back I did a case study on Vitamin D deficiency and how it relates to the clinical laboratory. Living in a place with little sunlight has given me the personal experience and results of many other people dealing with the deficiency of this very important hormone. (Even though it is called Vitamin D, it acts like a hormone in your body.)
As a scientist this has been very exciting for me, but it is unhealthy. The most beneficial form of Vitamin D can only come from sunlight, but taking a pill supplement can help. The lack of sunlight has made me feel tired, moody, and lackadaisical. As soon as I saw the sun come up over the horizon my spirits were lifted. Next winter I will have to increase my Vitamin D supplement so I don’t have as much of a problem.
I am so ready for some summer sunshine!