Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, is a type of recurring depression that follows a seasonal pattern.
Scientists are yet to discover the exact cause of the disorder. But research points to a lack of light during the dark winter months and impaired hormone regulation – specifically serotonin and melatonin.
Clinically significant SAD affects around 1-9% of people depending on the selected study. However, it’s likely that many more people experience a mild form of the condition called Subsyndromal SAD (or sometimes just ‘the winter blues’). Surprisingly some studies suggest it could be as high as 20% of the population.
Symptoms of SAD and winter blues
SAD affects far more than just mood. It’s also associated with disrupted sleep and impaired concentration and working memory. Common symptoms include:
- Lost interest, feelings of hopelessness
- Sleep problems (hypersomnia)
- Changes in appetite or weight gain
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Decreased activity levels, lack of energy
Preventing the winter blues with light
Light exposure – specifically bright light in the morning – is important for the treatment of this condition and can even act as a preventative measure.
We all have an inner clock that controls our sleep, mood, energy levels over the course of a day. Scientists call these daily cycles our circadian rhythms.
Research shows that the strongest environmental cue regulating the body’s circadian rhythms is light. In other words, light controls your inner clock.
By getting strong exposure to morning light, you are setting your inner clock for the day – and therefore helping to maintain regular, balanced sleep-wake cycles.
Healthy light exposure improves alertness, productivity and mood throughout the day. And above all, it even helps you sleep better at night.
Beat the winter blues with LYS
Inspired by the latest research in circadian rhythms, LYS has created a workplace wellbeing programme to help you and your business beat the winter blues.
Our mission is to enable healthier living with light and to make it available for everyone.
Delivering measurable benefits to users’ energy levels and sleep quality, the programme fosters positive behaviour change that makes a real difference to your staff’s wellbeing and performance.