Lighting Services Petal MS
Olive Branch, MS
A Brighter Option for the Winter Blues
On dark and wintry days, some people are happy to curl up with a good book and a warm drink—while others, with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), feel low until the sun breaks through the clouds. For years, portable light boxes (and trips outdoors) have been used to pull these people out of the winter doldrums. Now, a discovery from Thomas Jefferson University’s (TJU) unique light research program could change the way we approach this therapy.
Light boxes typically emit white light because of its power to suppress melatonin, a hormone that’s secreted when it gets dark and that functions, for some people, as a mood-dampener. But according to the study by George Brainard, a neuroscientist at TJU, blue light is more effective at keeping melatonin in check. This discovery has several important applications, says Brainard’s coauthor, neuroscientist Gena Glickman. It provides even more impetus for SAD sufferers to head outdoors, since natural light tends to be bluer than artificial indoor light. A better light box is around the corner, and according to Glickman, the commercial lighting industry may also come on board. “The industry is just now starting to respond to research in the field,” she says, “so we can expect better products in the next five years.” All sorts of public places, from offices to hospitals, could begin to use fixtures with blue light.Dilbert and his pals will have a field day with this discovery. What to do if the employees get cranky and start demanding more vacation time? Easy: Order new lights.
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