Surviving Six Months Of Daylight And Six of Months Darkness In Alaska


I had a reader ask me recently, after watching the show, Flying Wild Alaska, how I manage to adapt to the extreme changes in our long days vs our short days.  It can be a challenge to get used to vast differences between the summer and winter months.  During the Summer months, we can experience up to 24 hours of daylight in the most northern parts of the state.  In my area, we usually get at most, 4-5 hours of daylight during the darkest months in the winter.   With summers being so short, we try to go out as a family to soak up as much sun and fresh air as possible.  Since my family is naturally outdoorsy anyways, we take any opportunity to go hiking, fishing, camping, and take advantage of all that Alaska has to offer whenever we can.

Since all my children have been born and raised in Alaska, I’ve never found it to really affect their sleeping patterns.  I think they’ve grown accustomed to the daylight changes and since only two of them (as babies) have ever been outside of the state, they don’t really know anything different.  They do have a tendency to be more energetic during these time periods and I notice that I am able to stay up at night much later than the winter months.  These long days makes it ideal for doing some late night fishing and full day of sight seeing since you can hardly call even the few hours of night dark.  It’s more like the twilight hours as you could even go hiking in the mountains all night long with great visibility and in my opinion, is the best time to visit the state.

The winter months can be tough as the lack of sunshine can often lead to vitamin D deficiency in many Alaskans. With a maximum of 4-5 hours of daylight each day,  SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) often occurs and many can feel depressed during the short days with freezing temperatures.  It’s no wonder that we feel cabin fever and I’ve found the best way to combat it is to take a good source of liquid vitamin D and to stay as busy as we can with activities indoors and out.  Some people even use those light boxes or go to tanning booths for therapy.  There are some that also have extreme cases that they go on medication and it’s one of the factors that contributes to a high suicide rate in our state.

I have not been immune to SAD either as I myself have experienced the effects lack of sunshine can have on a person.  When I was pregnant with Patience, I had the blues so bad that there were times I could hardly manage to get myself out of bed.  Even when I’d get a full night of sleep, I’d wake up in the morning feeling as if I had not slept at all.  My energy level was at an all time low and I had no motivation to do anything.  During a midwife appointment, I found that my vitamin D levels were at an alarming low level for being pregnant and learned that this could also affect my baby.  Optimal, healthy levels are around the 100 point range and mine were only at 20  I ended up taking vitamin D since then and after a couple weeks, was feeling back to my old self.  It’s amazing how something as simple as that can help prevent SAD and depression!

While the startling daylight difference in the summer and winter months isn’t easy for any Alaskan, getting out and keeping busy are some key elements to adjusting to the season changes.  Summer abounds with activity all across the state, but winter also has its fair share of activities.  During the long winter months, you can catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) and participate or view sports like the Iditarod races, Iron Dog competition, ice fishing, snow machining, skiing, and snowboarding to name a few.   There’s never a shortage of things to do in getting the most out of living in Alaska and beating SAD!

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About Jacqueline

Jacqueline is the Mom/Owner/Editor behind the Blessings Abound Mommy Blog that incorporates her Christian, Alaskan, homeschooling, and stay at home life with six children eleven years and younger. You'll also find Alaskan and family favorite recipes directly from her kitchen and family oriented product reviews and giveaways! To learn more about Jacqueline and her family, you can read more about her here.

Comments

  1. 1

    There is no way I could live in Alaska, heck I barely survive Utah’s snow ;) I think it’s great you get outdoors and keep those kiddos active. Keep the vitamin D in you though!

  2. 2

    Great post! I always wondered how Alaskans dealed with it! I so want take my family on vacation to Alaska one day. It’s such a beautiful place! Your lucky to be able to live there. :)

  3. 3

    I watched 30 days of night with my husband, and I wondered the same thing…what if someone suffers from SAD?? This is interesting to have those questions answered.

    Penelope

  4. 4

    I’m not so sure i’d like that. Even here in MN we have a lot of more gloomy days in the winter, I have a hard time finding energy on those days… Especially when we lived in our tiny condo that had North West facing windows – we only got sun in our windows as it was setting. it was terrible :(

  5. 5

    I guess it would be hard to get used to such long days, and going to bed while the sun is still up, if you have lived in the lower 48. I would love to see the aurora borealis, I have heard it is awesome to see.

  6. 6

    My BIL and SIL used to live in Seward, AK and I remember how crazy they would feel during the winter, especially when the roads to Anchorage were bad because of avalanche conditions. I visited once over the 4th of July holiday and the daylight was insane. We were playing games one evening after supper and couldn’t understand why we were getting so tired after awhile (it was still light outside). Once we looked at the clock, we realized that we had lost track of time and it was close to midnight!

  7. 7

    Oh I could not handle that. I complain about living in New England and now I’m feeling bad I did that!

  8. 8

    My husband wants to go to Alaska bad, but I could never live there. I’d definitely be depressed. He would love it, he loves it dark. Sounds like such an amazing place, that is for sure.

  9. 9
    catherine says:

    so interesting. i imagine it to be hard but it really is all what you are acclimated to. you would probably have a hard time with the hot, humid summers down here in florida.
    really enjoy the post.

  10. 10
    Patti Hess says:

    I don’t think I could adapt to that wow you have to be strong to deal with that seriously..do you have special blinds you pull down so you are able to sleep during the daylight times? Wow…you know they make those lights for SAD….might want to look into that…I think it would drive me nuts!!! Wouldn’t it make your light bill high too??? (the dark times) Have you eaten whale blubber and is it good…they say it taste like candy…(well what i have heard)
    Hun, You are one of the few strong people I have met to live with this….
    Were you born in Alaska too?

  11. 11
    Denise B. says:

    Although, I could never be comfortable living in Alaska, I really learned a lot about some people’s lives there from just watching “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”. I used to live in Pennsylvania where hunting was a way of life for many, so I was used to that aspect of it. However, I do have a more positive outlook of Alaska after watching the show. I still don’t want to live there though!LOL Now, the show “Northern Exposure” just made me think the people up there were whack!LOL Just kidding, but that show was great! :)

  12. 12

    I could not deal with either the lack of sun or the cold. Even here in Arkansas my hands hurt really bad when its cold and compared to up there this isn’t cold at all. And I think the lack of sun would have me curled in a ball in the closet or something. Or so irritable no one would want to be around me.

    Congratulations on managing so well!

  13. 13

    I was actually just chatting with our veterinarian whose whole family is from Alaska. He and his wife and children moved to Texas because they weren’t able to cope with the daylight/dark variances during the year. The rest of his family still reside in Alaska and they go to visit but they are much happier in Texas.

  14. 14
    Karen R says:

    Visiting Alaska in on my Bucket List. I don’t think I could live there but I also wouldn’t want to live in California or New York City.

  15. 15

    I seen several shows based on Alaska and it looks all beautiful. We are very outdoorsy too. I don’t know if we could manage to live over there but I sure would love to give it a try.

  16. 16
    Carolina Dhabolt says:

    I have never been to Alaska, but would love too, we live in Iowa, and I know it’s not even close being as cold as Alaska, but I love the cold, I love the outdoors too, my whole family does, fishing, ice fishing, hunting, walking, camping, everything, can’t wait for the weather to get better to take the kids out more often though, they are so ready for spring!


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