SAD About Winter

How many hours of sunlight do you get? Is it enough for you? Does it even matter to you?

For me, this has been an ongoing one-sided battle for several years now. A battle waged only by me. And only in my head. And I don't mind telling you that it's a battle with no sign of victory for yours truly.

I remember clearly being affected by the short Edmonton days, when during my university student days I would enter the school and leave the school in complete darkness. I don't know if it affected me quite as much as it does now. It was just a fact of life, but given that it was -35 most winter days*, it wasn’t the largest of my concerns. The largest was figuring out a way to get to school in the quickest way possible so that my Arts Student Hair and my herbal tea (or flavoured coffee - yuck) wouldn't freeze solid in the 20 minute walk from apartment to classroom.

Nowadays, it affects me in more ways, mainly because 1) I'm older, 2) I'm crotchety-er, and c) I have two kids that are easier to entertain outside the house when it's light out. I also seem to be at least a little bit affected in the "energy level" department by constant darkness **.  It seems to me that Northern cities should have some workaround so that employees aren't as affected by this completely predicable seasonal variation in sunlight, but nothing I've come across has ever discussed it in the context of corporate policy. Would I be willing to work from 0400 until 1200? Probably, if I didn't have kids. That way I would have a few daylight hours to enjoy freezing my ass off in after work, and I could get to bed at a decent hour (like 0800, which I would totally do even now if I could get away with it.)

The daily duration of daylight of course (I'm guessing, but I like to sound like I know my ass from my elbow, and 7 out of 10 times, I do.) would be based on a few factors: Latitude, geographic placement in the time zone, and, I don't know, the whim of the Magic 8 ball. All I know is that for two months out of every winter, I bitch more and more about constant darkness. But I'm not alone. I just can't see my co-sufferers in this terrible light. 

Just for a little context, here are the current sunrise / sunset times for a few cities around the globe (this may totally mess up my formatting, so forgive me):

Honolulu, Hawaii
5:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:02am
Sunset: 5:52pm

New York, New York
10:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:13am
Sunset: 4:29pm

San Francisco, California
7:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:18am
Sunset: 4:51pm

Seattle, Washington
7:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:51am
Sunset: 4:18pm

Calgary, Alberta
8:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 8:33am
Sunset: 4:29pm

Toronto, Ontario
10:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:44am
Sunset: 4:42pm

Halifax, Nova Scotia
11:09am ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:44am
Sunset: 4:34pm

Dublin, Ireland
3:09pm ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 8:32am
Sunset: 4:07pm

Cairo, Egypt
5:09pm ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 6:43am
Sunset: 4:56pm

Jerusalem, Israel
5:09pm ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 6:32am
Sunset: 4:37pm

Shanghai, China
11:09pm ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 6:44am
Sunset: 4:50pm

Vienna, Austria
4:09pm ST
Mon 12/17/2007

Calendar
Sunrise: 7:39am
Sunset: 4:00pm

 

There you (well, I) have it. Growing up in Winnipeg, I would have had 8 hrs and 8 minutes of daylight. Later in life in Edmonton, 7 hrs 30 minutes. 10 years ago (Toronto), it would be 8 hrs 58 minutes. Now? 8 hrs 50 minutes. Maybe those moody feelings back in my university days in Edmonton weren't unjustified. But judging by some of the cities on that website, it could have been worse.

But hope is just around the corner. Or at least after the winter solstice has come and gone. Then I can count the extra minutes of daylight that I'll get until Daylight Saving Time kicks in and I'm once again thrown off my regular schedule. I should recover from this quasi-funk sometime around St. Patrick's Day. Top o' the Mornin' indeed.

What about your city? How much daylight are you getting?


* As you get older, everything seems colder, steeper, and apparently darker in your youth.
** My office -- er, cubicle -- does have a window, so I do get some sunshine when cloudy conditions permit. You can tell me to shut up now.

Posted bythemikestand at 11:43 AM  

3 stepped up to the mike:

Megan said... 1:54 PM, December 17, 2007  

We lived on the equator for four years, where the day varied by about 30 minutes total per year. I got so used to it, I totally forgot about how the days get longer/shorter. (I was young okay?!) I think I prefer it that way...

Corgimom said... 1:59 PM, December 17, 2007  

I didn't know how much the desert sunshine meant to me until I spent four years in dark, perpetually overcast Pennsylvania. I finally used light therapy to make it through January and February.
As for kids and early evening darkness, when the cold weather is dry an occasional flashlight safari or fire-building in the outdoor fireplace can work wonders. Beyond that we stay inside and chase beach balls around the playroom.

bethany actually said... 9:05 AM, December 27, 2007  

I hear you on the SAD thing. I have always been affected by the longer hours of darkness in winter. But I have an hour more of daylight than you do, so I won't complain too much.

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