Light Therapy - The "Prozac" to Winter Blues

My family was in for a major shock when we moved away from 16 years of living in the sunny Southwest to the Midwest with its grey winters.  People were warning us that winters would be hard. Yeah, right. I was born in Montreal, I remember winters. Pfffft.

As we were visiting Chicago area homes in planning for our move, we scoffed at the particular homeowners that featured a closet with a standing tanning booth in it. “You’ll need this in the winter” they said. Yeah, right. Pfffft.

Well, pfffft on us as we found out by mid-December of our first winter in Chicago. We were all dragging and so tired and sluggish all the time. And craving orange juice! Yep, we were all afflicted by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). So, we got a light therapy lamp. And I only thought of sharing this story when I realized that most people living here still did not know about this easy, natural remedy.

Why Light Therapy? Light plays a major role in the production of serotonin. It then makes senses to add light to our sunless days. And we can do that with full spectrum light therapy lamps (choose a brand that does not use ultraviolet light) that simulate natural daylight.

Light plays a major role in our well-being, as does the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. As the sun begins to rise in the morning the light that makes its way through our eyelids has a tremendous impact on our body. This morning light is recognized by the pineal gland located in our brain. This gland then secretes a chemical called serotonin and reduces the production of a chemical called melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that our body produces to help us sleep, while serotonin regulates our mood and energy. Serotonin and melatonin work together in managing important aspects of our physiology. Immunity, pain, digestion, sleep, body temperature, blood pressure, blood clotting, and daily body rhythms are all affected by serotonin and melatonin. Bright light and the amount of time we are exposed to it can affect our serotonin and melatonin levels. Energy level, alertness, mood, pain, sleep/wake cycle, and the ability to control our weight and appetite are all affected by the level of these hormones. Increasing serotonin levels is one way to achieve better health. (Source)

We got the Philips BriteLITE and it works very well for us. It’s a tad expensive at just under $280, but it’s actually worth every cent for the good that it does us. I use it every morning, sitting in front of it for 30 minutes while checking email and enjoying my morning coffee.

And I just noticed that Daily Grommet recently featured the Verilux line of light therapy products. Timely.

What a bright and cheery way to make up for lost sunlight and reset our bodies’ clocks.  Light therapy might not be as enjoyable as a tropical vacation, but it’s just as effective, less expensive and longer lasting. No pfffft here.

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Tags: D, depression, health, light, mind, mood, vitamin, winter

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