Winter bringing you down?

January 13th, 2015

This article is more than 8 years old.

What to do when the sun has left you

During January, Denmark has approximately seven hours of daylight – it's dark when you leave for work in the morning and already dark again by the time you arrive home.

If having the entire day swallowed by darkness makes you feel sluggish, experience a loss in motivation and crave carbohydrates, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for short.

Or you might have its less severe cousin, subsyndromal SAD (S-SAD), which are commonly referred to as the 'winter blues'. Seeing a doctor is still recommended if you believe you suffer from the condition.

READ MORE: Emotionally compromised or happy with their lot?

Trick your body
Researchers claim the disorder is caused by a misaligned circadian rythmn, and light therapy is suggested as a method of treatment.

The idea is that if the lack of sun is making people lethargic, adding artificial light might trick their bodies into believing it is summer.

The treatment consists of spending time around (but not looking directly at) light that is brighter than standard indoor lighting, but not quite as bright as the sun.

The treatment can also be used to treat jet lag or insomnia and aid those working night shifts. For SAD sufferers, half an hour of light therapy is recommended in the morning as the body clock is assumed to be delayed.

It's all about the lux
The lamps omit light with an intensity of 10,000 lux. While a sunny day provides around 50,000 lux, an overcast day yields just 1,000 lux. Alternatively, experiencing an artificial sunrise may help. So-called wake-up lamps that also function as an alarm clock are widely available.

They steadily increase until they reach 400 lux. In comparison, street lights typically function at around 20 lux. As light therapy isn't appropriate for everyone, we won't be experiencing really bright street lamps anytime soon to combat the darkness.

On the upside, SAD symptoms generally decrease as spring marks its arrival.


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