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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Observing Sweden - Seeing the Light

The lights have been turned on in Borlänge! So much brighter here now that we have snow – a different world!
Since November I’ve been wondering about my eyesight. Was I losing it, I asked myself. Things happen as the years stack up. I noticed mostly when the sun went down, of course it really never gets that up this winter months in Sweden. I thought maybe it was just my night vision and started drinking lots carrot juice, with no apparent results.

A few days ago I was reading a novel and came across the term: European Half Watt. Ha! The truth began to dawn (pun unintended). When my wife came to join me in America she brought three dozen Swedish light bulbs (glödlampa). The strongest of these was 40 watts. They were to go into some lamps she’d brought and made operational using a 110/220 voltage transformer, but we never did. We ended up shipping them back to Sweden when we moved here late last summer, and installed them on our arrival, late March. I’d never thought that much about it until now.

One rarely sees a bulb of over 40 watts here, though I know they have them, probably on a back shelf somewhere. LEDs are popular, and conserve electricity which is far more expensive here than in the States. This is especially true during the winter months. Neighbors frequently mention lower power bills associated with the inclemently warm weather we are having, at the same time complaining about the lack of light. As a new immigrant here, the snow-less days seem incredibly dark. We fade to black around 3:30. Seems I’ve had less energy, and have been sleeping hours longer usual, but snow adds tons of lumens to the day, and even night.
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On top of “sleepiness”, which most of us could probably deal with is the fact that our cortisol levels drop significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions. That means that we’ll be more stressed, and have less ability to stabilize our energy levels. Here is how a normal cortisol level flow should look like:

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