During winter, many of us find it hard to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning. But for some people, the seasonal shift to fewer daylight hours can be physically and mentally debilitating.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression often prompted by the shorter days of winter and the changing seasonal patterns. Symptoms include persistent low mood, irritability, and lack of energy, and SAD can also impact our mental health too.
SAD affects your body clock, quality of sleep, and body weight, as well as causing changes in serotonin and melatonin levels. The NHS recommends a range of treatment options including exercise or speaking to your GP.
There are also gadgets aimed at tackling SAD symptoms:
- Light therapy lamp
Unlike regular lamps, light therapy bulbs emit a bright, artificial light that mimics the sun’s rays without its harmful UVs. According to the Mayo Clinic, light therapy is most effective for sunlight deprivation with the proper combination of light intensity (10,000 lux), duration (two to 30 minutes) and timing (mornings).
Bright light therapy is said to work more quickly than medication.
2. Sunrise alarm clock
According to medical professionals, alarm clocks that mimic the sunrise can also be helpful for SAD treatments. Similar to the light therapy lamps, sunrise alarm clocks are designed to stimulate natural sunlight and enforce typical sleep-wake patterns. They tend to be much less lux than light therapy lamps.
3. Negative Ion Generator
Regular exposure to high-density negative ions has been scientifically proven to relieve effects of seasonal depression. The device negatively charges oxygen ions, which are believed to have a chemical reaction once they reach our bloodstream, influencing serotonin.
A 2018 controlled trial examined the impact of negative air ion treatment on SAD symptoms. Compared to a placebo group, both 30-minute and 60-minute daily treatment for 18 days significantly reduced SAD symptoms, and there were no side effects.
4. Weighted blanket
Proper rest is essential for increasing the ability to concentrate, having an improved mood, and the ability to go about daily activities. All of these help reduce the intensity of some of SAD’s debilitating symptoms.
Weighted blankets apply deep pressure touch stimulation, the feeling of a warm hug or massage. Studies have shown that the constant, even, gentle pressure provided by a weighted blanket encourages the production of serotonin, which assists in decreasing heart rates and reducing blood pressure.
5. Light therapy glasses
When your eyes receive light, it sends a signal to your brain to control your daily rhythms through hormone production. Using light therapy has a positive effect on your mood and will leave you feeling more energized. Portable glasses provide you the benefits of bright light with minimal interruption to your life so you can beat SAD, ease your symptoms, increase energy levels
6. Vitamin D
Some people find that taking vitamin supplements, such as Vitamin D, helps with energy levels and tiredness. When you’re sun deprived, an extra shot of vitamin D is a great boost for your immune system, supporting your health in the winter.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that our bodies create when our skin is exposed to sunlight. In the winter, we don’t get enough sun on our skin, which means most of us are vitamin D-deficient at this time of year. A vitamin D deficiency can make you feel tired, achy, and generally unwell. It can also have an affect on sleep quality. You should aim to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D supplements per day.