Before I decided to call Chicago my home, I hated the dull winter mornings in England, going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, being in a building working all day with little to no sunlight and when I officially chose Chicago as my home, my hate of winter amplified. In fact, as I look out of my window now, the sky is grey but the weather is right now unseasonably warmer than normal, but my English blood is thin!
So as the final leaves fall to the ground, and more & more the skies turn grey, and I feel those winter blues knocking on the door I switch on my Lightbox. A Lightbox provides me with Light Therapy and consists of exposure to very bright, full-spectrum light on demand. It mimics natural sunlight, which may not be available during the winter months and it is used by thousands of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a form of depression associated with late autumn and winter and thought to be caused by a lack of light or who have altered circadian cycles.
Light is the main cue influencing circadian rhythms, turning on or turning off genes that control an organism’s internal clocks. Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions. So it’s REALLY important to keep them on time, as they follow a 24 hour cycle. Disruptions in circadian rhythms have been linked to various sleep disorders such as insomnia. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder and, for me, will amplify my auto immune symptoms. So I will use my light box at my desk for between 2-4 hours per day, depending on how gloomy the day is!
I know I could not get through the snow, the bitter cold and survive the winter blues without my Lightbox, but I also take Vitamin D (as prescribed by medics as a supplement). Vitamin D is often described as a vitamin we need for bone health, however it’s really more of a sun hormone. Vitamin D is a chemical that we make on our skin from exposure to the sun, it is used to regulate our bodies like any other hormone like estrogen, thyroid or testosterone and it’s essential to every cell in our body and it’s not something we can get from food.
Now people often will say to me… I buy milk with Vitamin D added. Well I’m sorry to say that you would have to drink 100 cups of milk per day to stop you from becoming deficient. It’s a marketing scheme…there isn’t enough added to be of any real use to you AND if you don’t consume dairy then that option is out! So Vitamin D Supplements are required and you should ask your medical practitioner to test your family for Vitamin D levels in your blood or purchase a test kit online (though please do check with a medical professional on dosage before adding it to your routine). To learn about options for testing goto Vitamin D Council Website
So that’s how my family will get through the winter, our Lightbox and our Vitamin D supplements and a desktop background that shows me a beautiful sunny beach with waves crashing on the shore!
I have included an affiliate link to a lightbox on Amazon as many people want a brand that is recommended and this is the one I use because its portable!
Keep Warm out there!