Cambridge (PRWeb UK) August 11, 2009
Based on light measurements taken for the month of July, light therapy specialist Lumie, is advising sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition that usually affects people during the dark winter months, that additional ‘top-ups’ of bright light may be required this summer, to keep symptoms of SAD at bay.
Throughout July, Lumie, a company with over 17 years scientific expertise in light therapy, monitored daily light levels (measured in lux) received at its head office in Cambridge. Although readings for this time of year are normally expected to peak at around 50,000lux, measurements taken from the light meter revealed that not one day in the entire month reached this point .
The readings also showed that overall light levels received in July were down compared to the same time last year; with seven days producing lux levels that were so low, they resembled measurements you’d expect to see on a dark winter’s day , which could well trigger the onset of SAD symptoms.
SAD is condition that is thought to affect seven per cent of the UK population, it is recognised by the World Health Organisation and usually affects people especially between the months of October through to March. Evidence suggests that as night falls, the pineal gland starts to produce a substance called melatonin, which tells our internal body clock, that it’s night time. Bright light at daybreak signals to the brain that it should stop producing melatonin, so that we don’t feel tired and drowsy. During winter, especially when we’re indoors, the body receives inconsistent light cues - this change can cause our internal body clock to become misaligned; which means our sleep patterns, mood and behaviour alter as a result. For some, the disruption of the body clock can be so severe they feel considerably stressed and their day to day lives can become significantly disrupted; these people are suffering from SAD.
Another contributing factor thought to affect SAD is low serotonin levels (this is also common in people with depression). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that responds to changing light levels; when it’s dark, grey and overcast outside, people can be left feeling low. Recent research also implies that lack of light exposure on short winter days can make proteins, which clear the brain of serotonin, more active.
The combination of the low light levels and miserable weather received in July has also prompted many to discuss the early onset of SAD symptoms online, through social networking sites, such as Twitter and the Lumie Forum. Lumie can also report that consumer sales figures for the month of July are up 37.5 per cent, compared to the same time last year.
One form of treatment that can be easily administered by people suffering from the early onset of SAD, is bright light therapy. Based on research, people need at least 2,500lux to combat the symptoms. Bright lights, such as the Lumie Pharos range emit 10,000lux at a practical distance, which is the same level of light produced on a bright spring morning and 20 times brighter than a well-lit office.
Bodyclock dawn simulators can also help treat milder forms of the condition, known as the winter blues. They provide a gentle awakening to light, rather than sound, and over a period of say 30 minutes create a gradual simulated sunrise, and this triggers a peaceful wake-up response that runs in tune with the body’s natural biorhythm.
Jonathan Cridland, CEO of Lumie, said: “I think we have all noticed the difference in weather conditions over the last month. June provided some gloriously sunny days with clear blue skies and soaring temperatures, whereas July seems to have taken a back turn, providing grey overcast skies, rain and thunderstorms.
“When you look at the graphs produced from the Lumie light meter, you can clearly identify why SAD sufferers may be feeling the early onset of the condition. For at least seven of the days in July, the readings produced were so low they resembled what one would expect to see on a dark, winter’s day; for thirteen days, light levels didn’t even reach 10,000lux, which incidentally is the same level of lux output as our light boxes.
“Despite it being the middle of summer, the light levels we’ve been experiencing could definitely have something to do with why people are feeling low, and also why Lumie has seen an upturn in sales at time that’s normally quiet.