Broadway is Not the Only Place for Bright Lights!!

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • If you get the winter blahs, then one area where you can improve your environment is lighting!!  Darker, shorter days can sap your energy, cause you to seek comfort foods and even binge, and even cause a funk or depression as we would clinically call it.  It's a very specific depression, sometimes called SAD or seasonal affective disorder, and lighting and sun exposure is truly the key.


    Scientifically it's been proven that lights make you happy -darkeness can make you sad.  I know that we California parents are on the lookout when we send out kids to cold eastern colleges, for signs of this depression.  Clinically, 5% of people have classic SAD, while 10-15% of people have a milder version with low mood, low energy, excessive sleeping and overeating (especially grains).

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    There's also a new diagnosis - neurovegetative syndrome - being coined by an expert who DO NOT have the depression component but clearly do see -

    • Diet-busting cravings (especially for high-carb foods)

    that unfortunately coincides with the time period between Thanksgiving through the following Valentine's Day.  That can mean a huge weight gain yearly that, if not addressed, can create a weight gain cycle that ends in obesity.  Here's how to lighten up:

    (1) Get up and be a "sun-greeter" - if you can go outside and take even a 30 minute walk early in the am that exposes you to the sun's rays and gets your "motor reved up, " you may be able to counter the darkness impact

    (2) If your am time is at a premium - get an artifical light box ($200) and have it on the table in the kitchen so while you eat breakfast you get exposure to these light waves that are similar to the sun's rays.  You can also get a dawn-stimulating light for your bedise that mimics the rising sun.

    (3) Turn up the lighting at work and at home with either special SAD lighting lamps or even just regular light.  Adding additional light of any kind to your environment can help.  Just try to buy lights that are in the 3,000-4,000 Kelvin range (you can ask a salesperson).


    Take this condition seriously and get help if you suspect that you or someone you know has one of these classifications.

Published On: November 03, 2008