On Sunday 27th October, we gain an hour’s sleep as the clocks go back by an hour. To begin with we enjoy lighter mornings but we start to struggle as the days become shorter and the mornings darker. The dawn light level in winter is too weak to signal the pineal gland to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin; this leads to over-sleeping and grogginess in the mornings. Working long hours indoors means we also have insufficient light exposure during the day which can make us feel tired and down. As many as a quarter of us experience the winter blues and 7% * within that group suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Light therapy has been shown to be effective in beating the winter blues and mitigating SAD symptoms. Wake-up lights like Lumie Bodyclock, that simulate a gentle sunrise during the last period of sleep, can help set your body clock so you wake up at the right time feeling refreshed and ready to get up. The light stimulates production of hormones that help us get up and go, like cortisol, while suppressing those that bring on sleep, like melatonin. Lumie’s SAD and energy lights, which emit 10,000 lux at up to 35 cms distance, also help reset the body clock and provide a mood and energy boost whenever needed.
Our top tips for coping with the clock-change:
- Don’t snooze – your body-clock likes a regular routine so keep to the same wake-up time even at weekends.
- Ditch a shrill phone alarm for a natural sunrise with Lumie Bodyclock.
- Get some light exposure first thing – if you can’t get outside then use a Lumie light box over breakfast - emits 10,000 lux at up to 35 cms distance.
- Try to get outside for 30 minutes at lunchtime.
- Use your light box early afternoon to beat the post-lunch slump.
- Avoid tech at least an hour before bedtime and use a low-blue light feature as available on Lumie’s brand-new-and updated Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 700FM and Luxe 750DAB.
- Use Lumie Bodyclock’s gentle sunset feature to help you drift off to a good night’s sleep.
“We know that we need light to be able to see, but light is also very important for your mood, level of alertness and sleep patterns. In the winter months when the days are shorter and darker, not only can people feel low and depressed but they can also struggle to wake and get up in the mornings. Light therapy is a useful tool as it helps to keep your body clock on track during the dark winter months and can also directly boost your mood.” Dr Victoria Revell, Circadian Rhythm Expert, University of Surrey.
* Data based on an ICM Online Omnibus Survey conducted for Lumie in 2007/8 in which 2,000 people in the UK were polled.