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light therapy for SAD

Many people eat and sleep slightly more in winter and dislike the dark mornings and short days. This is known as 'winter blues’. Others have more severe symptoms which such as sleep problems, withdrawal, overeating, depression, anxiety and lethargy. These often lead to difficulties at home, work and in relationships. This is a recognised problem known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is caused by the lack of bright light in winter. Light entering our eyes stimulates our brain to control our daily rhythms through hormone production. In some people, the low levels of light in winter are insufficient to regulate the hormones that affect our waking up and sleeping, our feeling energised or depressed.

Treating SAD with light therapy

To treat SAD, 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 2,000 lux (the technical measure of brightness), which is roughly four times brighter than a well-lit office.

Lumie has designed lightboxes 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.

Lumie also invented Bodyclock, to wake you gradually with increasing natural light. This provides a natural signal to your body to adjust hormone levels, keeping your sleep cycle on track and boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day. Bodyclock is an effective winter blues option and can be a useful complement to a lightbox in treating more severe SAD.

For more information, read the guide to SAD and the winter blues.