Lumie light therapy to beat the winter blues
Now’s the time to start using light therapy if you want to beat the winter blues, says Cambridge-based light therapy specialist Lumie.
As we prepare for the back-to-school routine, up to 24% of us start to feel the onset of winter blues and don’t feel back to normal until April. Of that 24%, around 7% of Northern Europeans are so badly affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that they struggle to function normally. The main symptoms are:
- Sleep problems – oversleeping but not refreshed, unable to get out of bed, needing an afternoon nap
- Overeating – carbohydrate craving leading to weight gain
- Depression, despair, misery, guilt, anxiety – normal tasks become frustratingly difficult
- Family/social problems – avoiding company, irritability, loss of libido, feeling emotionally ‘numb’
- Lethargy – too tired to cope and finding everything an effort
- Physical symptoms – often joint pain or stomach problems, lowered resistance to infection
- Behavioural problems – especially in young people
Most of us know SAD is caused by the lack of bright light in winter; daybreak light is the signal for the pineal gland to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin but, in winter, the light level is insufficient to trigger this process. Light therapy provides a level of light equal to the brightness on a clear spring morning. This equates to approx. 2,000 lux, the technical measure of brightness, which is about five times brighter than a well-lit office. Just 30 minutes’ sitting in front of a bright light like this is enough to alleviate SAD symptoms for most people.
Lumie has been developing bright lights to treat SAD since 1991 and its products are based on published research and designed at its base in Cambridge. Its team also offers a wealth of advice and support, including access to an online forum for SAD sufferers and research.
"Our recommendation is to prepare now for the slump in energy that many of us feel in the winter months. If you already use a bright light it’s a good idea to test your bulbs and order replacements if necessary. If you think you might benefit from light therapy but don’t know where to start, please feel free to contact us for advice. We also offer a 30 day free home trial so you can try it out at no risk." Jonathan Cridland, CEO, Lumie.
“Although we don’t fully understand the mechanisms whereby light can regulate our mood, there is strong evidence showing that supplementary light in the autumn and winter months can help alleviate some of the symptoms of the ‘winter blues’ and Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Professor Russell G Foster, Director, Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, University of Oxford.
*Data based on an ICM Survey conducted for Lumie in 2007/8 in which 2,000 people in the UK were polled.
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