Like most people I love the summer! Long summer days!! Where we get lots of sunlight and tend to be outside more and therefore getting more exercise.
I tend to hibernate in the winter. I'm afraid of falling on ice patches or sliding on accumulated snow. I do go out, but not as much as I should.
With the above factors and others it is no surprise that some people have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) during the winter months.
Some symptoms are SAD are low mood, sleep a lot more, overeat and crave carbohydrates. I can certainly relate to some of these symptoms can you?
The disorder was first described in the U.S. in 1984. It became apparent that the further north or south people lived in the world the higher the incidence of the disorder.
As mentioned above long winter nights increase the prevalence of the disorder and observation also provided the clue that lead to the treatment: light!
It was found that light in the morning helped treat the disorder although the reason for this was not clear.
Certainly, body temperature that has a 24 hour cycle is at a minimum around dawn. Body temperatures and levels of stress-related hormones then start to increase.
Since the discovery that light in the morning can treat SAD, a lot of work has gone into understanding why. It has been found that the brain has a biological clock that orchestrates our 24 hour rhythms. It consists of only 60,000-80,000 nerve cells but has tremendous effects on our biology.
The clock has an effect on shift work, jet-lag, alertness, muscle efficiency and sleep. It has been discovered that cells in our eyes that had not hitherto been thought to be involved in light detection, they are called the retinal ganglion cells, are light-sensitive, particularly to blue light, and that the output of these cells goes directly to the brain's biological clock.
These cells lies in front of those that are used for visual perception, so the brain knows whether it is light or dark before we perceive whether it is light or dark!
These cells coupled with the others impact directly on the clock. The clock normally runs slowly and mainly adjusts to the new day and season etc. by speeding up a little with exposure to dawn light.
In the winter there is less light available to speed the clock up so it starts to drift and run the wrong time. In vulnerable individuals a cascade of problems develop resulting in SAD.
With our increased understanding of how SAD is caused and the underlying biology of the internal clock it has been possible to refine light technology so as to optimize exposure times and light intensity.
A device such as the Sun Touch Plus incorporates these advances in one useful product.
An interesting fact I learned about SAD is that it can begin at any age but the main age of onset is between 18 and 30 years.
The symptoms of SAD usually recur year after year (usually winter), and they tend to come and go about the same time of year (usually spring). Not everyone has the same symptoms. The most common symptoms of SAD include the following:
- Change in appetite: overeating, craving for sweet or starchy food, usually resulting in weight gain
- Drop in energy level: fatigue and inability to carry out usual routine
- Sleep problems: tendency to oversleep and difficulty staying awake, but in some cases, disturbed sleep and early morning wakening
- Depression: Negative feelings, feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem, sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings
- Mood changes: irritability, anxiety, tension and inability to tolerate stress, difficulty concentrating
- A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
- Social problems: self-imposed isolation by avoidance of social situations, and increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Sexual problems: loss of libido, decreased interest in sex and physical contact
Light therapy is a way to treat SAD with artificial light. During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box.
The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.
Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and some other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.
Avert your eyes when using light therapy - don't look directly at the box as it can cause damage to your eyes.
Light therapy averages from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It is best to start at small increments of time such as 15 minutes and work up.
It is best to use the device in the morning. Using the device at night can disrupt sleep.
You can read, use a computer, watch TV etc. while using light therapy.
Light therapy works best in the morning so you may need to wake up earlier than usual to match treatment with biological rhythms.
You may start to feel better within several days of light therapy, if used appropriately. But it usually takes two or more weeks.
Nature Bright sent me their Sun Touch Plus to review.
I loved how easy Sun Touch Plus was to use. You just plug it in turn it on and set the timer. The timer is from 15 to 60 minutes.
I have used light therapy in the past and I have to say that this device in my opinion is superior to the one I used in therapy.
I love how you can use it doing other activities - so it does not become boring. So it easy to do the same time every day in the morning.
I give this product a two thumbs up!!
You can also connect with Nature Bright on facebook.
One lucky reader is going to win a Nature Bright - Sun Touch Plus like I received. The giveaway is open to Canada and U.S. and closes on 02/23 at 11:59PM EST.
a Rafflecopter giveaway