Seasonal affective disorder is most common for people living in the UK during the months of November through to February.
For some people they bring on symptoms of depression, lethargy and in extreme cases, even despair.
Scientists believe that this relates to thousands of years ago, when the nights were longer and colder and food was scarce, our bodies would go into a kind of hibernation mode. This was in order to preserve energy. These days however, this is not possible, but we still feel those evolutionary effects. These effects are now known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and were first coined by Dr Norman E Rosenthal, author of Winter Blues:
“A more extreme SAD sufferer may experience depression, sadness and despair but in milder cases you may just find it a little harder to concentrate, have more difficulty waking up or suffer from lower energy or libido,” he says.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) relates to less exposure to sunlight, which in turn might affect the production of melatonin and serotonin. Both are hormones in the body; melatonin helps regulate your sleep patterns whilst serotonin affects your mood, energy levels and appetite.
There is help available however, as Dr Rosenthal explains:
“Research has shown that light therapy can help SAD sufferers by boosting the levels of the hormone serotonin in the brain.”
To understand more about light therapy and which would be the best product if you are currently suffering from SAD, there are a few guidelines you should be aware of:
- Light is measured in ‘lux’ units
- Any light product should have a lux of 10,000 or more
- For those suffering from milder symptoms you can get away with devices that have less lux
- The larger the surface area emitting the light the better
- Use your product from the morning onwards for best results
- Give your product at least a week in order to see results
To put the lux quota into context, a bright summer’s day would give you exposure of around 10,000 lux, whereas sitting in a building for eight hours under artificial light would give you about 500 lux.
There are many different types of light therapy products in the marketplace, from bulbs to lamps to wearables.
Just one further point, some of our products are listed with and without VAT. Those listed without VAT can be purchased without paying the VAT if you have been medically certified as suffering from SAD and the product is medically certified as proven to help the conditions of SAD.
Here are our recommendations:
This is by far the simplest way to incorporate extra light into your day. Daylight bulbs emit a natural light and are useful for those suffering from milder symptoms of seasonal affective disorder .
This is a portable light box that emits 10,000 lux and is medically certified to treat SAD conditions. You can mount it on a wall or it comes with its own tripod, or it will sit on a desktop. A great value for money device as some light boxes can be pretty expensive.
If you struggle with getting up during the dark winter mornings, this device is tailored for just that. It simulates a sunrise that lasts for 30 minutes and gently wakes you with increasing light that is exactly like sunlight. It is said to improve your mood and make waking up much easier.
This bulb is controlled via an app on your smartphone and has a whopping 16 million colours ranging from the brightest blue daylight to the warmest sunrise. You can use your smartphone to set timers and wake yourself up with different colours that fade from warm white to a cool bright daylight.
If you are going to buy one light box in your life, then this one is the bestselling device from Lumie – market leaders in the world. It delivers 10,000 lux, which as we know is the recommended amount of lux units, and all you need to do is sit at a distance of 25cm for around half an hour to an hour.
If sitting in front of a bright light box isn’t your thing, then Lumie have come up with this desk lamp that comes with a diffuser. The diffuser works to soften the light so that is does not disturb you too much when you are working. This is an ideal device for topping up other SAD treatments. The desk lamp delivers 10,000 lux at 22cm.
This is an alarm that wakes you up in the morning but uses a warmer light that is more natural so it replicates a warm summer dawn. You can also choose between five natural sounds or the radio to help wake you. This product has a maximum capacity of 300 lux so should be used for those with very mild SAD symptoms or as part of another therapy.
From: amazon.co.ukLuminette Light Therapy Glasses – £159
If staring into a light box is not your thing and you don’t mind looking a little bit different then perhaps you might like these light glasses. Made by Luminette, they emit white and blue light which the manufacturers say are as effective as a 10,000 lux lightbox. And you only need to wear them for 20 minutes a day.
A pendant lamp that wouldn’t look out of place in the trendiest attic lofts in Manhattan. Definitely one for the style conscious, this free-standing lamp emits 10,000 lux at 23cm or 2,500 lux at 45cm. You can also adjust the light output for the summer months when you do not need such as bright light. Available in either red or black.
Finally, if you are really suffering from seasonal affective disorder, to the point where you find it difficult to get out of bed, then this is our strongest and most effective product. You get the maximum 10,000 lux in a mere 20 minutes and at a distance of 55cm. The fastest treatment device we could find in the market.