Will you be SAD in Iceland

Icelanders have the luxury of getting to experience the extreme end of daylight. Summer nights with endless light of such astounding warmth and beauty one can only sit back in awe at times. We have a very special orange light at times which seems so thick you want to hug it. Then we have the opposite, the dark winter, being darker the further north you are, with the amount of light going down to maybe just over 3 hours. Add to that in the Westfjords, many villages lies at the bottom of big mountains where the sun doesn’t reach them at all for a few months and the weather might hinder the light too. The shortest day of the year is around the 21st of December but by New Year’s eve, the daylight has lengthened with 13 minutes.

For visitors in Iceland, the deprivation of light might not affect at all, quite the opposite, guests usually finds it very cozy and even exciting but for some, like this author, definitely feel the lack of light in the form of a type of depression usually called S.A.D. (Seasonal affective disorder). Many people who get affected by this gets to be very lethargic, no motivation to do much at all and wants to do like the bear, go into hibernation.

Winter in Iceland

Some researchers are now offering a new explanation why some people are more prone to SAD than others:

It has more recently been suggested that this may be attributed to the large amount of fish traditionally eaten by Icelandic people, in 2007 about 90 kilograms per person per year as opposed to about 24 kg in the US and Canada, rather than to genetic predisposition; a similar anomaly is noted in Japan, where annual fish consumption in recent years averages about 60 kg per capita.“(from Wikipedia)

So what can be done? If it’s a medical, seek the help of a doctor but as for this author, light is the answer. There are a wide variety of SAD lights on sale (yes, I got one) but that might not be practical for the traveling man. Another solution might be to use a solarium. The positive effects of the added light was felt immediately for me but didn’t continue due to the common census that solarium are not good for you.

Keep your hotel room well lit, including the bathroom every time you are at the hotel. Make sure the curtains are wide open during the day to let as much light in as possible.

Being organized helps too. Keep your mind of your travels around Iceland, read about the different destinations, weather reports, road conditions. Have a to-do list.

Stay active! Visit the many swimming pools and geothermal pools and Spa’s Iceland has to offer. Get day passes at the closest gym. Your hotel might even have a gym and a pool. Take walks in the daylight every day. Eat healthy and some recommends an increase of D-vitamin.

Socialize! Be around people, engage, take part and talk to others.

Again, when you visit Iceland during wintertime, it is very unlikely you will experience SAD unless you already are before coming here but we thought it’s good to know in case you would feel a little bit down while here during our darkest days of winter. We are confident you will be amazed of the beauty winter here has to offer while driving around Iceland. Be prepared for what you may encounter when it comes to the short days, the weather, the snow, one lanes bridges and you will have a fantastic trip.

Also have in mind this is not written by a medical professional, only from a guy who moved to Iceland back in 1988 and is talking from a personal experience.


Safe travels!  #GoIceland