Winter brings great joy for some people sitting by a warm fire, sipping hot cocoa or playing in the snow. For some unlucky people, winter represents feeling tired, depressed or having an overall unhappy feeling. The good news is that winter time does not have to bring on the blues! Here some ways that the right lighting can brighten your mood.
Why So Blue?
As fall changes to winter, temperatures plummet in some areas and the sun shines less. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a seasonal related depression that typically starts and stops the same time each year, usually during the colder and darker months. However, it is believed that SAD is more likely related to the decrease in natural sunlight rather than the decrease in temperature.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Did you know that approximately five percent of people in the United States suffer from SAD? Another 10-20 percent also exhibit mild symptoms in the winter. This means that approximately 10 million Americans have SAD. SAD is more frequent is people who live further from the equator and there may be a genetic link as family history seems to play a role. Both women and men suffer from SAD, but women are approximately four times more likely to have SAD. There seem to be additional factors such as age as it most often develops between the ages of 18 and 30.
What are Some Symptoms of Fall & Winter SAD?
- Low energy levels
- Weight gain and craving high-carb foods
- Difficulty getting along with others and increased sensitivity to rejection
Lighting the Way to Symptom Relief
An effective and simple way to alleviate symptoms of the winter blues is light therapy. Typical phototherapy treatment for SAD is the use of a 10,000 lux light box that includes a UV filter for about 30 minutes each morning. Other ideas to brighten up the day include:
- Wake-up lights/alarms that gradually increase the lighting in the room to mimic the natural increase in daylight.
- Smart bulbs that can be programmed to give off bright, cool tones in the morning and change to more warm tones towards afternoon and evening.
- Light therapy lamps that produce between 7,000 and 10,000 lux, but emit no UV rays.
- Install adjustable controls to lighting already in the home, providing the option of brighter lighting in the morning and decreasing the lighting throughout the day.
- Increase the overall lighting in your home and/or office with the use of warm lighting lamps.
- Get outside and soak up some sunshine during the day, even if it’s just for a 15-minute break at work.
Things to Consider When Adjusting Lighting
- Avoid just increasing wattage on regular bulbs or sitting in front of lights that emit UV rays.
- Can your electrical system handle the extra work? When adding additional lighting or different and stronger forms of lighting, avoid overloading outlets or extension cords.
- Evaluate natural lighting in your home when determining where the most artificial light is needed.
- Consult a professional when changing wiring or lighting controls.