As the days get shorter, I’ve had lots of conversations about SAD lamps – are they just a gimmick?
Well yes and no – there is no substitute for going outside – the vast majority of artificial light sources just don’t have the edges of the visible spectrum that sunlight delivers – the near violet that plays a role in metabolism and synthesising vitamin D for example, This 2013 paper from Dermato-Endocrinology gives a good overview –
If you, like me, you were always told to cover up to avoid skin damage from exposure to sunlight, it seems that it may be a bit more complicated – some cancers seem to be inhibited by sunlight.And living in a low-sunlight country seems to be a contributing factor. This recent paper from a team in Brazil explains some of the mechanisms involved.
And just to complicate things a bit more, your chronotype seems to make a big difference to your response to those narrow bandwidth wavelengths present in sunlight – and not in most artificial lighting – this paper from Chronobiology International is an interesting read –
It’s tempting to think you should just throw blue light at everything, especially when you’re working – or at least trying to. But this experiment – admittedly small-scale and, as usual, on a population of healthy academics – but their findings suggest that it’s worth considering the colour temperature too
Back to the chronotype question – it may make a bigger difference than we thought to how you and the kids survive the winter.