Winter comes with months of waking ourselves in the absence of sunlight. Our sleep wake cycle or circadian rhythm is regulated by the rising and setting of the sun based on light and dark signals we perceive through receptors in our eyes. When we wake in darkness during the winter months, the lack of light from the sun impacts our natural hormonal responses. This can contribute to symptoms such as grogginess, fatigue, low mood and cravings many experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The use of light therapy lamps have been shown to reduce and even remit symptoms of low energy, mood and cravings in individuals with SAD. Using a light therapy lamp can help regulate your sleep cycle and keep you energized, happy and healthy during the winter months.
Light therapy lamps should have 10,000 lux (a unit of brightness based on distance) as well as indicate an approximate distance in which you should place that lamp from you. You should use your lamp for at least 30 minutes per day in the morning upon waking. Talk to your health care practitioner in you have Bipolar Disorder before use.
My personal favourite light therapy lamp is the:
There are many alarm clocks on the market that act to mimic the natural sunrise. These are useful to help stimulate you to wake naturally in the mornings and provide your room with a warm happy glow. Dawn simulators are not considered light therapy lamps as they do not have 10,000 lux. They only mimic the sunrise to help you naturally wake up as they gradually brighten your room over a 30 minute period.
My personal favourite dawn simulators are:
Minimizing bright light, specifically blue light at night also helps regulate your sleep cycle.
What you can do:
If you continue to experience these symptoms or experience them all year round, talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about running your levels of B12, Iron, Vitamin D, Thyroid and Adrenal function.