Tips on how to cope with the Swedish winter darkness

Many students struggle with the lack of light in Sweden during the winter months. However, these feelings are normal, and we shouldn´t be afraid of them. There are several ways to make this time a bit easier to get through. On this page you will find advice on how to cope with the darkness.

Normal reaction and feelings 

Darkness affects our biological rhythm, which helps us sleep, be awake and regulate many processes within our body such as mood, apatite, and mental wellbeing. The lack of light signals to the brain that it is night-time, i.e., time to go to sleep, even though it is in the middle of the day. 

Feeling low during this period is a normal reaction to that biological process. Try to remember that it will not last forever. In just two to three months, it will start to get lighter again. Until then, here are some tips on how to cope with the darkness and help your brain regain that balance between day and night-time. 

Keep it light

  • Turn on the lights at home in the morning to signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up.
  • Get outside during daylight, preferably before noon. 
  • When studying indoors, sit close to a window so that you get exposed to as much daylight as possible.
  • When it gets dark early – turn on the lights inside. There is nothing wrong with wanting to cozy up with candles, but if you do struggle with winter depression, you need to have your lights on at home until it´s night-time and time to prepare for sleep. 
Two students walking in a snowy campus Solna
Taking a walk outside during the day will give you some extra energy! Photo: Erik Cronberg

Exercise will help 

Another thing that will help signal to your brain that it is daytime is to get physically active during daytime. 
There are free gyms on both Campus Flemingsberg and Campus Solna for KI-students. The gyms are run by KI Health Promotion  

A power walk outside in daylight might also be a good idea if you don´t feel like going to the gym.

Sleep

  • Try to keep your sleeping routine. It is easy to feel sleepy when it’s dark outside, even if you’re not actually tired. 
  • Avoid taking naps during the day, to help you sleep better at night. 
  • Stay away from caffeinated drinks, especially late during the day.
A diagram of how you can get stuck in a vicious cycle. It shows a circle with arrows that connects the text. Few activities leeds to Low mood leeds to Less Energy leeds to Do even less things you enjoy leeds to Feeling more depressed.
Don´t wait for motivation, then it is easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle. New behavior might be what will make you feel better! Photo: N/A

Don’t wait for motivation

If you’re feeling a bit low it’s common to have thoughts such as: “As soon as I feel a bit better, I will… (go for a walk, exercise, get in touch with my friends etc.)”. The thing is, to start feeling better, you will probably need to start with engaging in some of the behaviors above. Waiting for motivation to emerge will only get you stuck in a vicious cycle. 

Try to engage in a new behavior first, and then see what happens. Chances are, that new behavior might just be the thing that will make you feel better!

Be kind to yourself

It is important to remember that it is ok to feel low and tired sometimes. Follow the advice above and try to keep a routine. You can also test your health-related habits anonymously and receive personalized advice, tips and tools through our lifestyle test. And if you are in need of more help you are welcome to contact the Student Health Centre for support.

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Studentkommuni…
21-11-2022