Amsterdam, the Netherlands– Join Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG; AEX: PHIA), the global leader in lighting to beat the most depressing day of the year. According to a study by Cliff Arnall, the most depressing date of the year is today and is amongst others due to the weather conditions and lack of sun light. The answer to this common problem could be as simple as exposure to blue LED light.
Winter blues is a condition that affects large groups of people worldwide, especially in countries with long and dark winters. Mood problems and lack of energy typically start in autumn and may last well into the spring. The condition is more common among women than men: three to four times the number of women than men are afflicted.
Lighting, whether natural or artificial, affects all life on our planet. In humans, it plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythm, the natural biorhythms of our body clock. It has been shown that having enough light during the day, particularly during the winter, has a beneficial effect on mood and general quality of life. Light powerfully regulates our body clock and influences factors like sleep, depression, anxiety and delirium. Under normal conditions, light is the main stimulus that entrains the circadian system.
A whitepaper by Philips has compiled insights from over 10 years of ongoing research on the effect of light on our sleep/wake cycle or “circadian rhythm”. It reveals that the amount and quality of light you are exposed to every day may be responsible for compromise sleep and mental well-being.
The power of light
Light therapy has proven to be the most effective treatment for fighting the winter blues. Over the past 20 years, many studies involving thousands of patients, have demonstrated the superiority of light for treating winter blues. Scientists agree that winter blues and related problems result from the lack of light and patients respond to light therapy quicker than to other treatments.
Light therapy at home
Over the years light therapy has become more accessible to a larger group of people. Whereas a few years ago, light therapy was only available in specific institutes and centers, people increasingly use light devices at home for light therapy purposes. Philips goLITE BLU is a portable energy light that uses the natural power of daylight to improve energy levels and mood. Just 20-30 minutes a day is all it takes to feel more energized and active.
The seasonal symptoms of winter blues are similar to ordinary ailments: mood and energy problems, fatigue, increased appetite, carbohydrate craving, weight gain, concentration difficulties and sleep problems. As a result of these common symptoms, the number of people troubled by one or more symptoms of winter blues may be even higher than currently known. The impact on both the physical as well as the psychological well-being of those affected by winter blues can be substantial.
Winter blues and winter depression
Winter blues should not be confused with winter depression. Winter blues is the milder form of winter depression (or SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder). People with winter blues notice they are just dragging, not getting their work done, and generally feeling unhappy. Carbohydrate and sugar cravings are also common. These people may also notice mood problems but are not fully depressed. If one feels depressed, he or she should only use light therapy after seeking medical advice.
 See PLoS ONE paper R. P. Najjar, L. Wolf, J. Taillard, L. J. Schlangen, A. Salam, C. Cajochen, and C. Gronfier See PLoS.ONE. 9 (7):e102827, 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4114570/ for how chronic artificial blue-enriched white light is an effective countermeasure to delayed circadian phase and neurobehavioral decrements.