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How the Midnight Sun Phenomenon Affects Your Body

For many people, the long days of summer are something to look forward to all year. But in some parts of the world, including Alaska, Canada, Russia, and some parts of Scandinavia, the summer days mean that the sun never sets, or sets only briefly. The phenomenon known as the midnight sun can make it hard for your body and mind to adjust if you happen to visit during that time of year or move to the region.

Extended daylight hours can affect your mood, sleep cycles, and energy levels because the brain becomes confused. When it is dark, the brain expects to sleep and when it is light, the brain expects to be awake so it gets confused and can’t tell whether to sleep or wake.

The whole body may be affected by the brain’s confusion. Circadian rhythms are the body’s internal process that corresponds with the 24-hour cycle of light and dark. If you suddenly have too much light, then the results can be similar to jetlag and include headaches, mental fog, and digestive issues. The drastic seasonal shifts in some parts of the world can have inhabitants living in a perpetual state of jet lag, including possible hormonal disruptions.

Common results of the midnight sun include having trouble sleeping or sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, fatigue, and a bad mood. Most people eventually adjust to longer days or shorter nights and can ameliorate the situation by maintaining a schedule, using relaxation techniques, eating well and exercising. In addition, having dark drapes and a sleep mask can also help.

There can be other problems from the midnight sun as well, including prolonged sun exposure, even indoors, coming in through windows. Although the sun’s rays aren’t as strong as they are around the equator, the midnight sun does increase exposure time, along with the accompanying risks of excess sun exposure.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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