I have done so much travel since June first that I've gone from Alaska to Hawaii, Germany, Seattle, and Denver. I have two more trips scheduled between now and the end of August. Over the busy summer, I discovered we need nights that get dark.
I went to Hawaii to attend a conference and have a lovely holiday before flying home for 24 hours. I had time to repack before heading off to attend a wedding in Germany and spend time exploring the area.
It is a twelve hour time difference between Hawaii and Germany, half a day. I loved my time in Germany. I managed to adjust to the time zone over there but I ran into problems when I returned to Alaska which is ten hours behind. I live in a part of Alaska where it does not get dark at night for about 6 to 8 weeks.
It gets dim, kind of like dusk but never darker than that. It is easy to play sports outside at three in the morning or go out for a meal. Once I got home, my body had no idea what time zone it was. I'd be so tired, I'd go take a three to four hour nap around 1 in the afternoon and again around midnight. I could not sleep 6 straight.
It wasn't until my trip to Seattle and Denver that I began to sleep over 4 hours at a go. I think its because it got dark at night. The darkness signaled my body it was time to sleep. Until that trip, I never realized how important darkness is to the human body.
The light and dark cycles help reset our daily or circadian rhythm so we know when to eat, sleep, wake, be active, and helps maintain our body temperature and certain things in our blood. Our bodies rely on the dark part of the cycle to trigger melatonin levels to help us sleep while the light portion causes melatonin levels to drop so we wake up.
It is suggested that people have too many artificial lights so their melatonin levels do not increase in the same manner as if it is totally dark out and are not able to have a proper sleep. In addition, darkness is the body's signal for the body to begin dropping, slowing the metabolism, and we get sleepy. Furthermore, melatonin helps keep us healthy by fighting diseases. This may be one reason people gain weight and are sicker when they do not get enough sleep at night.
This explains why it took me until I spent time in a place where it actually got dark for several hours before my sleep pattern got back to normal. I need that dark to trigger the proper sleep patterns.
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.