Why does January make us feel so low?
Many people feel deflated and low when returning to work in the wake of the festive period. Depression and lack of energy – symptoms of SAD – are at their worst during January and February when there is the least amount of bright light available naturally. The average office is just 500lux which compared to the 100,000lux we can receive when being outside on a summer’s day is a huge drop in the intensity of light into the eye.
7% of the UK’s population suffers from SAD and an increasing number of Brits are self-diagnosing themselves with Winter Blues causing a desperate need to combat the symptoms especially when balancing those feelings with credit card bills, tighter clothing and an unachievable New Years resolution. The symptoms caused by the lack of light in winter include sleep problems, withdrawal, overeating, depression, anxiety and lethargy. These often lead to difficulties at home, work and in relationships.
To beat this January low, most sufferers need light to their eyes as bright as a spring morning on a clear day, for around 30 minutes a day. The light must be at least 2,500 lux and Lumie has designed light boxes up to 10,000 lux that allow shorter treatment times and the option of sitting further away. They can be used while working or at home watching TV. Others are designed for travelling. Whether you have SAD from low light or milder winter blues, bright light is proven to tackle symptoms, put you in a better mood and make you feel more awake.
As light therapy is now a highly recognised solution it is crucial that sufferers buy an authentic and effective product. Lumie, inventors of the much-imitated Bodyclock wake-up light advise that users look out for the following indications for all light therapy devices, including SAD lights and wake-up alarms.
1) Certified as a Medical Device - Light therapy products should be certified to the Medical Devices Directive (EC93/42).
2) Guidelines for treatment time and distance - Light intensity drops dramatically over distance. A short treatment time may have been measured impractically close. Look for clear guidelines about distance so that you know how powerful the light really is and whether or not it will suit your way of using it.
3) Filtering of UV light - Most people are now aware of the dangers of harmful UV (ultraviolet) light. Properly designed light therapy products will incorporate special screens and filters to ensure that UV levels are negligible.
4) Shown to work in clinical trials - Look for actual product tests or – more commonly – for previous clinical trials that have shown the same type of light exposure to be beneficial.
5) Home trial period - Light therapy makes a real difference but if you are not sure it can seem like an expensive risk. Reputable companies will offer a home trial so that you can try the product out for yourself.