I dread daylight saving time and the very dark days between the end of November until Mid February. The minute the sun starts going down in mid afternoon, I just want to sleep. ntellectually, I understand that it is just dark, not necessarily time to hit the sack, but my body slows down, I start to nibble on things I shouldn’t and ultimately, I have trouble keeping my eyes open past 5pm. In addition, I can’t get up in the morning, either, despite the best efforts of my cats to annoy me awake so they get their breakfast!
In case you’re wondering what the problem is, it’s that I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) . This is a disorder that some scoff at, but it is all too real for those who suffer from sunlight deprivation. When you have SAD you may know intellectually that it is the afternoon, but if the sun isn’t out, you may feel so sleepy you can’t keep your eyes open, and it’s hard to get up in the morning. People who suffer from SAD often find that they are depressed, sluggish, gain weight, and generally, their bodies just want to hibernate.
However, there are ways to counter-act the negative effects of too little sun, and short days. Those who have SAD can often benefit from a special light box that mimics natural daylight.
I had a big, bulky light box for many years, and when I used it daily, I felt a bit better. At least I could get through the darkest part of the Winter without falling asleep all the time. But during construction on my apartment, the heavy box fell over and the casing on the power button broke off. When I tried to turn it on, I got a huge shock, (literally). I found another light box, but it doesn’t fit on my desk where it needs to be, to do the most good.
As fortune would have it, I received a new type of lightbox that is so small it will fit in a purse for travel, and yet it delivers a whopping blast of bright light to help SAD suffers stay awake. The Philips goLITE BLU HF3330/HF3332 ($srp. $199 –there is another model that is about $129.00) is a portable light lamp that sits on a little metal spindle that you can pull out, for travel. At just 14″ x 14″ x 2.5 cm the white plastic encased light featured a blue LED array on top, and a smaller, touchscreen on the bottom. This bottom panel is used to set and show the time, and to access alarm, light settings and battery status. There is also a standard push button power button on the side of the box and the right side, and on the left side you can plus in the AC power adapter. left is a socket for the included AC power adapter. You also get a “pleather” slip case into which you can transport the stand and light box, although the adapter plug won’t fit. Finally! A light box that actually fits in the corner of my desk, instead of taking up half of it!
You don’t have to be a computer savvy genius to set it up. It’s really easy. You just tap the bell button to set the alarm, and use the plus and minus buttons to set the amount of time you want the light to say on. Philips recommends 15-45 minutes a day, which seems about right. Since I’m never quite sure just when I will be at home or at my desk, I just turn it on manually when I’m ready for my light therapy. Philips says you can use the goLITE BLU battery power for between three and five sessions but I keep mine plugged in. I have no doubt it would last for at least five sessions if they weren’t long.
The device is excellent and as a light box, it is mall but mighty. It is even more powerful and bright than the light boxes I previously used. If you turn up the light all the way on this tiny light box, it is blindingly bright. That takes a little getting used to. The light that the goLITE BLU energy light produces is a particular kind of pure blue light that occurs naturally on very sunny, clear days. Special receptors in the eyes absorb this blue light which makes you feel energetic whenever you need it. There is really no need to turn it up all the way to get effects. In fact, some people don’t think that this kind of light therapy really works on SAD. For some people it works, and for some, it’s a failure. It has always worked for me , however. While light therapy doesn’t make me want to spring out of bed in the morning and party all night, it does keep me feeling better and feeling more optimistic and awake. Note that Philips calls this an “energy light” and not a treatment for SAD. While the light is supposed to mimic bright natural sunlight, it is actually a 100% UV free blue light that won’t give you skin cancer (like baking in the actual sunlight, might).
Philips recommends 15 to 30 minutes of time in front of the light each day, initially starting off at 50-percent brightness and increasing if you don’t notice a difference after a week. You are supposed to put it off onto the side so it shines on your face form an angle. It really does take getting some used to when you’re trying to work with a bright light shining somewhat near your eyes. I’m more dubious about the claim that if you use the Philips goLITE BLU for a few days before you travel, you can help your body clock reset itself to the new timezone at your destination (morning sessions when traveling east, or evening sessions when going west). I haven’t tried it, and I wouldn’t discount the benefits, but it does seem a bit far-fetched. If you have tried it for jet lag, please leave a comment here and share your experiences. As to the lights, Philips claims they will last for 50 years if you used the device for 30 minutes a day. Impressive! And,there is a 45-day guarantee on the product in case it just doesn’t work for you. That’s nice, too.
There is plenty of information and support on the Philips Web Site. For portability, price, and effectiveness, I’d give it five stars. I am not alone. Out of 319 reviews on Amazon, for example, 190 were full five star raves. Only 1t gave it two stars or less and one of those obviously had an issue that had less to do with the machine than a customer service experience. One person complained of headaches. Yes, the light is bright, but it is adjustable. There are always a few dissenters in any group but for the most part, people were more than satisfied with the device. I’m one of them!
To learn more about the GoLiteBlu visit the Philips Web Site GoLite Blu page
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