Let There Be Full Spectrum Light

wpid-img_20141106_142621.jpgI’ve written a lot lately about depression (especially of the seasonal variety), and I finally decided to buy a Happy Light (by Verilux) after my doctor and a few friends had suggested it to me for literally years. Other friends have asked for feedback on the lamps because apparently I’m not the only one who gets down during these shorter days, so here’s a little roundup of how it’s going.

So! I got a lamp to go on my desk as well as some light bulbs to go in the lamps in our living room. The lamp is called the “Happy Light,” and we found it on Amazon. I chose the Verilux brand because my doctor suggested it and I know a few people who’ve used their lamps before.

Here’s the important info. The lamp’s instruction booklet suggests a minimum daily use of 30-60 minutes. I typically turn it on while I’m writing and probably get significantly more exposure than that. I looked up side effects from exposure to the lamp, but they’re all really minor, so I’m not worried about that. The instructions also say to place the lamp 6-24 inches from your face, so you’re sitting pretty close to it while you work. Some people might find this distracting, but I find it nice because the lamp is warm and there’s always a bit of a cool draft at this time of year. The kitten also likes it, and everyone loves working with a sleeping kitten near by.

As for the light bulbs, they’re more for ambient lighting, so it’s hard to say if they’re particularly effective for seasonal depression. However, my husband (who works from home) often sets up his “office” in the living room near one of these lamps, and I’ve noticed him seeming a little more upbeat and lighthearted lately as well. Don’t tell him I said that because he kinda likes his gruff guy image, but frankly he’s been adorably chipper lately. Granted, that could be the light boosting his mood or it could be me projecting. Le Husband would like to point out that the light is very white and very bright, so if you’re used to warm lighting, this will take a bit of adjustment.

After the first day or two of using the lamp and bulbs, I felt a little bit lighter and brighter but also still a little down. Now that it’s been over a week, I can say definitively that I feel better, and I’m pretty darn sure it has to do with the lamp. However, I’ve also made one other change worth noting: I *finally* joined a gym. As a result, I’ve worked out 4 of the past 6 days (derby practice Monday, basic cardio Wednesday, strength class Thursday and back to cardio Friday). For comparison’s sake, I normally get between 6 and 12 hours of physical activity per week between skating and teaching yoga, but working out on my own time is a little different. Still, we all know exercise has a positive influence when you’re feeling down, and I think the combination of the light and exercise has been really great for me. And let’s not forget that I also take a pretty big dose of vitamin D every day, so if you’re not prepared to invest in the lights, start with taking a multivitamin and a D supplement. I’m told that the body is better at processing the vitamin D it produces (i.e. when stimulated by full spectrum light) than a supplement, so if the supplement doesn’t seem to do enough for you, definitely look into the lights.

I really hope some folks find this helpful, and I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with full spectrum lamps.

And that’s all I have to say about that. Peace.

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