martes, 7 de julio de 2015

Winter is something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured

The Norwegian Town Where the Sun Doesn't Rise

by Kari Leibowitz
I spent a year in Tromsø, Norway, where the “Polar Night” lasts all winter—and where rates of seasonal depression are remarkably low. Here’s what I learned about happiness and the wintertime blues.

Located over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø, Norway, is home to extreme light variation between seasons. During the Polar Night, which lasts from November to January, the sun doesn’t rise at all. Then the days get progressively longer until the Midnight Sun period, from May to July, when it never sets. After the midnight sun, the days get shorter and shorter again until the Polar Night, and the yearly cycle repeats.

So, perhaps understandably, many people had a hard time relating when I told them I was moving there.

“I could never live there,” was the most common response I heard. “That winter would make me so depressed,” many added, or “I just get so tired when it’s dark out.”

But the Polar Night was what drew me to Tromsø in the first place.

Despite the city’s extreme darkness, past research has shown that residents of Tromsø have lower rates of wintertime depression than would be expected given the long winters and high latitude. In fact, the prevalence of self-reported depression during the winter in Tromsø, with its latitude of 69°N, is the same as that of Montgomery County, Maryland, at 41°N. While there is some debate among psychologists about the best way to identify and diagnose wintertime depression, one thing seems clear: Residents of northern Norway seem able to avoid much of the wintertime suffering experienced elsewhere—including, paradoxically, in warmer, brighter, more southern locations.


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