When the seasons change and days become shorter, we’re exposed to less sunlight. And because it’s often already dark when we leave work, exercising outside can be more difficult. As a result, our bodies can become deficient in vitamin D and serotonin, which can lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder. Commonly referred to as SAD, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that tends to show up around the same time each year. Most people with SAD start experiencing symptoms in the fall that continue into the winter months, and SAD can also be present in the spring and early summer, although it's less common. Regardless of when it exists, it can deeply affect one’s overall health and wellness.
One of the common ways to treat SAD is with light box therapy. A SAD light delivers a dose of nutrients through a UV-free LED bulb. Sessions usually take place in the morning, when a user will sit in front of a light therapy lamp that they place in a peripheral view (rather than looking directly into the device). The length of time per session starts at around 5 minutes and increases gradually to a 150-minute maximum. Be sure to read the user’s manual for detailed instructions. There are several types of SAD lamps, which is why it’s wise to review the specifications to learn the strength of light that each model emits. For example, a wake-up light alarm clock simulates sunshine but has less strength than a device designed specifically for SAD light therapy. While it’s not a complete replacement for the benefits of outdoor recreation, there are many advantages to having a sunlight lamp that can help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
Benefits of SAD light therapy.
In lieu of taking a beach vacation in the middle of winter, a SAD lamp can deliver vitamin D therapy in the comfort of your home. When you spend time in front of your light each day, your body receives some of the important supplements it needs to be healthy. By making your light therapy session part of your daily personal care routine, you’ll be treating yourself to “me time” that makes you feel good. You might also find your sleep health improving when you start each day with your light therapy lamp shining next to you. Using a SAD light on a regular basis can also boost your overall mood, giving you a sunnier disposition — pun intended. Some people find that time in front of their SAD lamp is spa-like, so they enhance their session by placing essential oils in a nearby diffuser to awaken another sense. Try keeping a journal of your sessions to track how you’re feeling over time. This will help you create a visual record of the benefits of your ongoing SAD light therapy.