Posted by: Sarah | November 15, 2009

Who Turned the Lights Out?

I recently went back to the UK and realised just how dark Norway has become over the last few weeks.  When we put the clocks back an hour at the end of October, we suddenly seemed to get plunged into darkness – almost instantly – much worse than in the UK.   We’ve just got through what I’m told, is the worst month of the calendar year.  Sunrise is generally at 9.30am in the morning and sunset at 3.30pm in the evening. 

So why is Norway so dark and how do Norwegians cope with one of the most depressing months of they year?

Norway is one of the worlds most northerly countries and it’s long.  Oslo, the capital city, is pretty much level with the top of Scotland and then most of the land stretches north of that.  Almost half the length of Norway is north of the arctic circle and that is why during winter, the northern parts of Norway will see no sun at all so we are very grateful that in Oslo, we get to see some of the sun – even if it’s not for long!   In contrast, during summer Northern Norway gets 24 hour sunshine which is why it’s known as “The land of the midnight sun” 

So how do you stop yourself from going completely mad when faced with all this darkness?    Here are some hints:

  • Buy candles – LOTS of them:  If you’re going to sit in darkness all night, at least make is cosy and romantic
  • Get a “Naturally waking” alarm clock:  These things are great!  You set the time and the light slowly gets brighter and brighter.  By the time the alarm goes off you’re already naturally awake. 
  • Use flourescent reflective arm bands:  Norway is a nation of walkers.  If you want to be seen when out walking it’s worth investing in a set of these.
  • Join a club/Invite friends over:  Force yourself out of the house otherwise you end up hibernating for the winter
  • Leave an outside light on:  You’ll leave home in the dark and get back in the dark – make it a welcoming return home!
  • Watch the clock:  Your body clock won’t know what time it’s supposed to go to bed so watch the clock.  Whether it’s 3pm or 11pm – it will be dark so make sure you get the right amount of sleep.

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