Sunshine is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but many of us just don’t get enough. Our bodies were designed to get a fair amount of sunshine each day, but due to our modern way of life, most of us only get just a few minutes outside each day, if any at all. This lack of sunshine can cause hormonal imbalances and have a significant effect on your mood (sunshine exposure puts you in a better mood)! There are some light boxes on the market (like the Happy Light) that supposedly give you a dose of the good full spectrum light that you need, and can help you feel better. But do they actually work?
- Better for You – studies have shown lack of sunlight can increase your likelihood of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
- Easy to use – in most cases you just plug in the light and turn it on
- UV free – most broad spectrum lights filter out the harmful UV rays
- It Works! – many stuck-inside people using a full spectrum light report improved mood, energy and sleep patterns
- Full Spectrum lamps can get a little pricey
- Some studies have shown full spectrum lighting confers no health benefits
I work in an office building 40+ hours a week. I am fortunate to have my own office, but I’m not important enough for that office to have a window. So I spend almost all of the daylight hours in my “cell” on the phone, working at my computer, or going to meetings. It’s kind of a drag. I really dislike this time of year when the sun is already low in the sky when I leave work. I know that in a few weeks it will be dark when I leave work, thanks to the end of daylight savings time. Blah. It just brings you down, you know?
Several weeks ago, a friend at the office stopped by and gave me a Happy Light. She had purchased some for her department, but had an extra. She told me it was supposed to help with mood, energy and productivity for people who didn’t get much sunlight. I asked her if it actually worked, and she was rather non-committal. We agreed that it couldn’t hurt, and I decided to try it out “for the blog”.
I had been generally aware that the sun can have an effect on your mood. This is probably why I feel somewhat grumpy in the late afternoons in the winter. I also knew you could get “sun lamps”, but I’d never really looked into them, or thought that they could make that much of a difference.
I placed it on my desk, close to me, but just out of my line of vision. It sits next to me, and I let it shine on me most of the morning, and then for a few more hours in the afternoon. I noticed a bit of eyestrain, when I first started using it (it’s BRIGHT), but moving it more next to me instead of in front of me helped reduce the strain.
So, did it work? Well, I haven’t really noticed an improvement in my mood (but I’ve got some home stuff going on that makes me feel rather down. I wouldn’t expect a bright light to fix all that drama…) HOWEVER…
It suddenly hit me after a couple of days that I had dropped the caffeine habit cold turkey. Some mornings, and most afternoons, I tended to grab a cup of tea or (gasp!) soda to ward off the sleepies that hit hard. Starting the same day I turned on my Happy Light, the sleepies disappeared. Completely. Which really surprised me, because I was spending pretty much the entire day in my chair, working at my computer on a massive report that was due.
I also noticed that I didn’t “need” that afternoon snack I typically would get. The one that was carb heavy and nutritionally light. My afternoon munchies had been banished away as well. How could a light do that?
Overall, I didn’t find that the Happy Light made me any happier. However it did make me feel physically more alert, and less sluggish throughout the day. Just for that, I consider this a winner. I absolutely recommend the Happy Light for folks who can’t get as much outdoor time as they would like. Certainly I wish I lived on a homestead where I could do hard work in the sun all day, but office worker is my lot for now. The Happy Light is filling in part of that sunshine gap I’m missing each day.
If you’re interested in trying out a Happy Light for yourself, you can purchase through this Amazon link below. (Note that this review and endorsement is not compensated in any way by the Happy Light people, but a small percentage of your Amazon purchase goes to support this blog).
Have you ever tried out any kind of light therapy or other sunshine replacement gadget? What was your experience?
PS – You know I’m not a doctor, right? This information is based on my experience only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Your experience may vary. Please remember to speak with your healthcare professional about any medical concerns you have, and follow their recommended course of treatment. You can read additional fine print details here.