New Year hangovers can involve more than just overdoing the sherry – it’s common for many people to suffer low moods in January, also known as the January Blues.
This is more than just dread at the thought of going back to the grind of work – there are also medical factors at play, including the lack of natural sunlight during the dark winter months, which is known to affect people’s health and wellbeing.
A few hundred years ago, 75% of the population worked outdoors; nowadays less than 10% of the population work in natural outdoor light. Whilst this is fine in the summer months when there are longer daylight hours, in the winter months, people tend to go to work in the dark, go home in the dark and don’t get enough natural daylight.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This change in seasonal light, our hectic lifestyles and the periods of darker days and poorer weather can result in dramatic effects on our circadian rhythms (body clock). As a direct consequence of these environmental and lifestyle factors, more people than ever before are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
In the UK, we’re more susceptible to SAD as we are situated in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Because of this, there are large changes in light levels between the summer and winter, along with periods of dark, gloomy weather which can reduce the amount of light we receive and therefore have a profound effect on our body clocks.
SAD, also known as winter depression, is something that affects countless people every winter. Just like depression, SAD’s symptoms include persistent low mood, disturbed sleep, lethargy and irritability.
Production of melatonin:
Melatonin is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. If you suffer from SAD, your body will produce higher levels than normal, and you will feel constantly lethargic, even sleeping longer than normal.
Production of serotonin:
Serotonin affects mood and appetite. With SAD, the lack of sunlight during the winter can lead to lower levels of serotonin, leaving you with a feeling of depression.
Waking to low levels of light is never pleasant but it can also disrupt your body clock. Our bodies are used to waking when it is light, and it feels unnatural to wake when it is still dark, which leads to symptoms of SAD.
LED Light Therapy
Several different studies have examined the positive effects artificial lighting can have on the human body when there is a lack of natural sunlight. Employees who work under higher colour temperature lamps have been shown to have higher levels of serotonin, making for a happier and more productive workforce.
Light therapy, including specific SAD mood lights, can add the brightness that our bodies crave during the dark winter months. Other studies have found that LED lamps are most effective in reducing symptoms of SAD, with the light from a blue LED lamp (closest to actual sunlight) improving a patient’s feeling of depression through every day usage. This is due to the LED light surpressing melatonin production which eases symptoms of depression.
Another factor aiding the use of LED in light therapy is the intensity of light LED produces.
Normal SAD light therapy lights are around 10,000 lumens and the standard LED light reaches nowhere near this luminosity. However, the crystal clarity, the short-wavelength light and the blue hues that come with using LEDs (including cool white LEDs) have been seen to reduce the symptoms of SAD.
This means that while specific SAD light boxes and other lamps have the light intensity to aid in the light therapy, any LED device can have the same effect on sufferers for half the price. So long as the body is exposed to a blue hued light, the light therapy still works.
Browse our range of stylish ceiling lights and pendants and brighten your mood with longer-lasting and energy-saving LED.