Are you feeling SAD? No not sad, SAD! Seasonal Affective Disorder. You may have heard of this but if not let me explain. At this time of year with less sunshine throughout the day, your mood and general well-being can be hugely affected. Surprisingly, I also found out when researching into this, that SAD is more likely to affect women than men. So what are the factors that come into play to cause SAD?
The lower levels of sunlight in the autumn and winter months can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms which can lead to low mood. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin (a brain chemical that affects your mood) and may trigger feelings of depression. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, producing more, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. Symptoms include, lack of energy and inertia, low mood and irritability. Having trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, feeling unsociable, anxious or angry. Being prone to illnesses such as colds or infections and generally feeling lacking in motivation.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that definitively affects myself and my husband, I’ve often felt my mood dip as soon as summer is coming to an end and the thought of the dark mornings and early evenings fill me with dread. So what can we do to manage these feelings? Living in the UK where 6 months of the year are generally grey, cold and damp (and where sadly my dreams of moving to a gloriously sunny Greek island are not about to materialize any time soon!) plus living in a terraced period property (so typical of much of the UK housing stock) doesn’t help due to the gloomy dark internal rooms that receive less light.
There are a few things you can do - eating healthily, getting outdoors for regular daily exercise - even just a short walk will help. One of the easiest and proven ways to treat symptoms of winter blues is through light therapy by the regular use of a light therapy lamp. Using high-intensity light to treat medical and physiologic conditions is nothing new. In ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures, exposure to natural sunlight was used to treat various conditions. These days, the role of the sun in the remedy has been taken over by light therapy lamps.
I’ve been using Lumie lights for the last few years and found light therapy to be really beneficial. What these lights do is introduce safe, natural and UV-free bright light therapy by mimicking the brightness and intensity of sunlight via a stylish lamp that you can use around your home. The best time of day for bright light therapy is believed to be early in the morning, either when you wake up or straight after sitting down to work. I like to use my light as soon as I get up, in my kitchen with a coffee whilst checking my emails. You can find that just 30 minutes sat in front of a light therapy lamp will make a difference to your mood.
So how does a light therapy lamp work? Lumie lights deliver a much higher light intensity than regular indoor lighting. Lumie bright light therapy lamps deliver 10,000 lux (lux is a standardized unit of measurement of light level intensity). I’m using the Lumie Halo light right now - it’s optimized to deliver the right brightness, intensity, and color temperature with maximum efficiency. You may only need to use the lamp for half an hour each day. My husband likes to use it in the afternoon too, just when it’s getting darker, as he says it helps that ‘afternoon slump’ we often get where we feel lethargic and sleepy after lunch. Everyone's different though, so you can experiment to see what works best for you.
My Lumie Halo lamp also has different light settings to suit your mood and time of day. A brighter setting for day time use and the reduced blue-light content in Evening Mode makes it ideal for use later in the day when you may want to wind down and relax whilst reading before bed. I really like the backlight feature too - a soft and warm light shining towards the back, so the backlight illuminates the beautiful copper of the reflector, replicating the natural glow of dusk and dawn. A calm soothing light to enable you to wind down at the end of the day. Combining form and function, these lamps not only look good but make you feel good too!