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Is the end of summer getting you down? Get happy with a SAD lamp!
This entry was posted on 20/10/2016.
Most people start feeling a bit glum as the days get shorter. Summer never seems to last for long enough, particularly in this country. But there’s a lot more at stake than your social life and your tan when the sun disappears! Our bodies need vitamin D to function but the UK is rarely ever sunny enough for us to get a healthy amount. This can cause a huge variety of health problems, from depression to broken bones! Read on to find out how to make sure you avoid sunlight deficiency this winter…
British weather means that the sun is only strong enough for us to get enough vitamin D between March and September. As autumn creeps in, you may find that you start to experience symptoms like:
- Bone, muscle and joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Bladder or bowel problems
Vitamin D is hugely important for the health and maintenance of your body. Without it your bones will become weak and fracture more easily. This is a particular risk for people over the age of 50 and those with darker skin, as both of these groups are less able to absorb and process sunlight. Long term vitamin D deficiency has been linked to conditions such as:
- Osteoporosis and brittle bones
- Multiple Sclerosis
- High blood pressure and heart conditions
- Impaired immune system, leading to illness and infections
- Insulin resistance, leading to diabetes
Bright light therapy each day keeps the doctor away!
The recommended amount of sunlight each day is around 15-30 minutes of strong, bright light. If you have pale skin, 30 minutes in the summer sun is enough to create the equivalent of 500 micrograms of vitamin D in your body. This is far more than you actually need – doctors recommend around 10 micrograms a day. However, that’s the beauty of getting your vitamin D from light instead of supplements; your body will produce as much as it needs and then stop. This means there’s no risk of taking too much, which can cause kidney and heart problems.
Using bright light therapy means you can get all of the benefits of sun exposure whatever the weather is outside. It’s also a safe way to create vitamin D without risking skin damage, unlike using traditional sun lamps. This is because a light box produces a special type of light that is super powerful but free from harmful UV rays. So unfortunately you won’t get a tan, but you will improve your health!
Bright light therapy is also an excellent treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Around 20% of us feel symptoms of the ‘winter blues’ each year. These include depression, anxiety, fatigue and mood swings. SAD can turn into serious clinical depression that makes you unable to enjoy your life. This happens because lack of sunlight changes the hormone levels in your brain. It increases the ‘sleepy hormone’ melatonin, making you feel fatigued. Meanwhile the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin decreases, causing changes in your mood.
You can combat Seasonal Affective Disorder by using a SAD lamp for a few minutes a day. These SAD lights produce around 10,000 lux - the same amount of light that the sun gives off on a clear day. Standard lights in an office or home only give off 320-500 lux. Using a SAD lamp is recommended by therapists as the best way to treat SAD, curing 85% of cases within a couple of weeks. This goes to show what a powerful effect the sun has on our bodies!
Sleep better with a SAD lamp
Changes in the seasons will play havoc with your circadian rhythms. Your body has only just gotten used to the long days and now suddenly it’s dark when you get up in the morning! This confuses your body clock and means that you have trouble sleeping for a healthy amount of time. Your sleep cycles can also be thrown off by jet lag or even simple things like having lie-ins on the weekend.
Light therapy will reset your internal clock and help you get a great night’s sleep. By using a light box first thing in the morning, you can make sure that your body fully wakes up and feels energised. This will also help you to get to sleep more easily in the evening. As well as normal SAD lamps, we offer specialised wake up lights that simulate dawn to gently wake you up at exactly the right time.
At StressNoMore we’ve got loads of ways to ease you into a happy and healthy winter season!