This letter will brighten your days and nights for the good of your health

Sunday 13th October 2013 

In amongst my e-mails this week was something that got me a little worried.

Now, it wasn’t the plight of a friend who was stranded in foreign climes that needed me to send them money urgently to pay for their medical treatment/personal security/release from custody (a very popular scam e-mail at the moment.)

Nor yet was it the offer to enhance my bedroom prowess with a new form of Viagra from China (I really must tell Lara not to forward those adverts to me!)

And it certainly wasn’t the chance to share in the good fortune of a Nigerian prince who needed to borrow my bank account to deposit $10 million in for a few days... if only.
No it came from a rather spiky Mr E B of Cambridge who drove his point hard when he wrote;

“I suppose now that the nights are drawing in you will be jumping on your annual bandwagon by pushing expensive Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps won’t you?

“Each year your readers must dread opening their e-mails to see you spout the same old misguided rubbish about changing light levels, and this so called syndrome.”

One of the dangers of writing the Good Life Letter is that I often get accused of just following a trend, or repeating the hype around some latest therapy or other.

But I can absolutely assure you all that every word I write is based upon principles that I believe in, and know will stand up to scrutiny.
So, Mr E B let me assure you that I do truly believe that mood and health can be affected by changes in daylight, but far from pushing expensive lamps I want to show you a much cheaper option to stay in summer daylight conditions.

Daylight light bulbs that keep summer in your living room, and save you money

The SAD phenomenon

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of winter depression that affects about 500,000 people every year, from September to April. The months of December, January and February tend to be the worst.

It can be unbearable for sufferers. In some cases, it can have a devastating effect. You literally cannot function.

So is this all just a state of mind? Just a case of winter blues?
Surprisingly, NO...

S.A.D. is triggered by a chemical imbalance caused by lack of sunlight.
This imbalance takes places in the hypothalamus - a section of the brain just behind the eyes. This section helps to control the pituitary gland, which in turn controls the thyroid, adrenal glands and sexual organs.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the hypothalamus also helps control appetite and weight, sleep, body temperature and emotions.
So when the hypothalamus is mucked about with, your body can feel extremely off-centre, and can make the act of “keeping up appearances” very hard indeed...

People who suffer from S.A.D. may feel like shutting the world away. And if they do have to deal with people, they can be irritable and snappy. They become tense and stressed, they find it hard to stay awake, they tend to crave carbohydrates and sweets...

In short, they suffer from a full-blown depression which can all-too-easily be written off as a general low feeling that most of us feel when January comes, when work and school starts up again, and when things slowly get back to normal.

All of this is heavily supported by research and trials – much of it very current either describing the latest concepts in why it happens, such as a new book published in May this year(1), or the latest research findings into treating the condition with light or vitamins.(2 & 3)

Most importantly these trials and experiments prove that there are things that can be done to help minimise the effects of this common disorder.

Two easy ways to alleviate the winter blues

When our bodies experience sunlight we get a boost in feel good hormones, a healthy dose of vitamin D manufactured in our skin and a general lightening of mood.

So, why not consider how to achieve the same when we can’t get out into the sun?

By bringing sunlight inside the house many of the real world benefits can be achieved, and the benefits of light therapy are well known – but can be prohibitively expensive with specialised light units costing at least £50 each.

Now, though, advances in technology have led to the development of standard fitting light bulbs which have the same luminosity as the sun.
When I heard about these I did have a little chuckle to myself as I imagined the amount of power needed to fuel the ‘sun bulb’ causing the wheel in the electric meter to spin so fast that the accompanying draft would cause a chill!

But, as I read more about these devices I realised that they actually consume less power than a standard bulb – Save money and have your own personal sunshine in every room

Boost your vitamin D too (and three!)

I don’t like to do things by half, so how about considering boosting your vitamin D levels too?

First there is a highly active D3 version which doesn’t derive from fish oil but from olive oil so is environmentally friendly; Click here for details

Next I have found a magnesium enhanced version which is suitable for vegans as it isn’t encapsulated in gelatine of animal origin, and is derived from yeast which is boosted by UV light treatment; Click here for details of vitamin D from sun-tanned yeast!

So there you have it a real sunshine filled Good Life Letter for you...
...of course if you want a bit more sun try one of these SAD bulbs.

Yours, as always


(1) Gudenas, J., & Brooks, M. (2013). Seasonal Affective Disorder. Journal of Consumer Health On the Internet, 17(2), 224-237.
(2) Naus, T., Burger, A., Malkoc, A., Molendijk, M., & Haffmans, J. (2013). Is there a difference in clinical efficacy of bright light therapy for different types of depression? A pilot study. Journal of affective disorders.
(3) Anglin, R. E., Samaan, Z., Walter, S. D., & McDonald, S. D. (2013). Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(2), 100-107.



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