Major Improvement in Seasonal Affective Disorder with These Lights
See 80% Improvement in Seasonal Affective Disorder with These Lights
Updated on September 21, 2022
For those of you following us, you already know that I have a special interest in depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Like millions of others, I deal with both.
If you find yourself overly tired or even depressed every winter, you could have SAD, too. The further north you live, the more likely you are to have it. If you suspect you could have SAD, talk with your doctor about it. There are solutions and you don't have to feel blah half the year.
How Lights Help Me Fight Off Seasonal Affective Disorder
The one thing that has helped me the most with SAD symptoms is light. I use multiple different light types regularly, including the best-selling RubyLux NIR-A Near Infrared Bulb and indirect exposure to the RubyLux All Green LED Bulb. On top of those, I use tanning lamps and beds in moderation for their UV light. And at times, I use a SAD lamp on my desk (That link is the most effective and durable SAD lamp I’ve found. Not only does it work better than others I’ve tried, but it’s survived multiple falls onto concrete- and kept the bulbs inside safe!)
Below, I'll share the details of the lights I use. I know that most people with SAD don’t need as much light as I do. Keep in mind that everyone is different and you might need much less or much more than what I mention here.
An Accidental Discovery
Back in 2019, I found a new lighting setup and it is now the favorite in my collection. It made such a difference for me that about 80% of my SAD symptoms are gone. As soon as I realized it almost eliminated my SAD symptoms, I wanted to tell people about these lights, even though our company, RubyLux, does not sell them.
I know from personal experience how difficult living with SAD is. On a good winter day, I’d be exhausted and ready for bed at 7:00 P.M. Staying focused was a struggle. On a bad day, nothing could make me happy. I know for some people, symptoms are so bad that they can't stop crying and some even think of hurting themselves. There’s no way I could discover something that helps me so much and not pass along that info. There are too many people with SAD struggling to make it from day to day. What if this could help someone else?
I discovered these new lights on accident. Here at RubyLux, we have plans in the works to make some YouTube videos answering some of the great questions everyone sends us. So, we purchased a video lighting kit so everyone could see everything in our videos clearly.
Well, the videos have been on hold because I won’t give the lights back. I set them up and now we need another set, because the first set is MINE. I can’t believe the difference they’ve made. After a couple days using them, I had more energy, more focus and felt just as good as I feel in July. I still do use my other lights and other anti-SAD strategies as needed, though.
How I Use the Photo Lighting Setup for SAD
Here in this post I am linking to the exact lighting setup we bought. It included four ultra bright compact fluorescent bulbs, four light-weight stands, sockets and a whole bunch of other stuff like a backdrop for videos. I set up all four of those bulbs with their stands and reflective shades right in front of my computer. I plugged them all into a single power strip, which I use to turn them all on/off at once. Because these are compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s), they ARE made with mercury vapor, like all CFL bulbs. Therefore it's extra important to avoid breakage. I kept the bulbs and stands safe by placing them between a wall and my desk.
Now, my understanding is that doctors generally advise people to get a SAD lamp and use it a couple feet from their face once each morning for 15-20 minutes. And it's true that this treatment will help, especially if you get a good lamp. My favorite is the SunTouch Plus SAD lamp, unless I'm traveling, in which case compact portable LED travel lamps are better.
*Click on photo below for detail on those items.
I know doctors say to only use SAD lamps for a few minutes, but for me that just wasn't enough light. So, I started using my SAD light for several hours every day. I'd just turn it off when it starts annoying me. There is a point where I just feel like I’ve had enough. I do the same with my RubyLux All Green LED Bulb and the video lighting setup lights. I use the RubyLux NIR-A Near Infrared Bulb for 10-20 minutes on my head, several times a day.
As for the Fiji Sun tanning lamp, I use that for only 5 minutes per area. I do not use it enough to tan. I am only interested in getting some vitamin D in the wintertime. As we all have heard, most doctors would say using a tanning lamp at all is a terrible idea. That I understand, but I also understand that for me, a small amount of UV light works better than vitamin D pills.
I do think my need for light is much higher than most. I would guess that an average person might only benefit from one or two photo lights. And many would only need the typical 15-20 minutes of light in the morning.
Don’t forget- timing is everything if you want to beat SAD. SAD has been tied to circadian rhythm regulation problems. Bright light early in the morning is believed to help humans regulate their circadian rhythms by stopping the activity of melatonin. The best time for bright light exposure is between 6:30AM to 8:30AM. The same goes for tanning lamp use.
How I Use the RubyLux All Green LED Bulb for SAD
Green light has various positive effects, but the way one might use it for skin hyperpigmentation is not the same as how one would use it for regulating circadian rhythm or for headaches/migraines.
To help with SAD, I use the RubyLux All Green LED Bulb in a desk lamp, which is pointed downwards onto the desk. It should not be directed towards the eyes. Indirect exposure is the goal. This is the same way to use green light therapy for headaches and migraines.
How I Use the RubyLux NIR-A Near Infrared Bulb for SAD
The RubyLux NIR-A Near Infrared is my personal favorite and it’s also our best-selling bulb. I’ve found that using it on my head and neck helps with focus and attention, relieves SAD symptoms, gets rid of brain fog and makes me feel calm and happy.
With this bulb, I only need a few sessions a day. If I start getting a mild headache or feel irritated 1-2 minutes after starting it, I know that either I’ve targeted the wrong part of my head or my body just doesn’t want it that day. Using the bulb should always feel relaxing and good. It shouldn’t ever cause discomfort.
What Else Can I Do for SAD Symptoms?
There are a few other things that really seem to help me with SAD symptoms.
1. Melatonin – Taking melatonin helps me regulate my circadian rhythm. After a bit of research, I concluded that one needs to find the proper dosage for oneself, usually between 1-5mg. I experimented with varying doses that didn’t work or made me even more tired before I found the Goldilocks dose for me: 3mg. I’m always careful to take it at the right time (remember, timing is everything with circadian rhythm), around 9:00PM at night.
2. Eliminate Blue Light at Night – I turn the brightness on my phone way down and by 8:00PM, I’ve changed my display settings so blue light is eliminated. I have also seen positive results from using light-blocking eyeglasses three hours before sleep. Some of the best I found were Uvex glasses.
3. The Right Kind of Contact Lenses – When I had UV-blocking contact lenses, my symptoms were worse. After I switched, symptoms improved.
4. Sauna– At the risk of sounding like I think sauna cures everything…sauna cures everything. Seriously, one of the things that makes me feel great in the summertime is the warm weather. In the winter, I use the sauna and it seems to have a positive impact on my SAD symptoms. You can make your own home sauna for $200, that is what I currently use at home.
So there you have it! Although I have no idea if I am the first to notice how these things help with Seasonal Affective Disorder. What’s more important is telling other people who might not have heard of it yet. Perhaps someone will find it useful. If that someone is you, once you get to feeling good again, do me a favor. Remember to pay it forward :)