T Nation

Light Boxes

Do any of you have any advice/experience with full spectrum lighting, such as is used to treat seasonal affective disorder? I’ve noticed that I tend to become more depressed during the winter, and I’d like to add some full spectrum light, but light boxes are fairly expensive. Any tips?

Don’t have experience with them, but I know you can get full-spectrum light bulbs too. They’re also expensive ($12-$15 apiece, I think), but can be more economical than the boxes. Whether they emit enough light to make a difference with SAD, I don’t know. I was thinking of getting a few for the house, and probably a couple smaller flourescent ones for the under-shelf lights at my work. I experience the same thing as you and would like to be proactive this year and pick something like this up.

My mother actually got roped into buying one last winter for something like $300. She’s the “Prevention” magazine type, so it didn’t surprise me at all that she would go out and buy such a gimmic (all the while ignoring the fact that it was likely her diet and workaholic lifestyles that were causing her energy problems). I can’t say that I noticed any change in her demeanor, but I’ll talk to her and see if it made a difference. Personally, though, I can think of a million things on which I would rather spend my money.

I don’t have anything to offer on the lightbulb/box issue but there’s something else you may consider. Tanning beds. While I’ve not been diagnosed with SAD, having grown up in Seattle and then moved to Colorado, there is a trememdous, but vague and generalized, change in my mood and disposition that I can only attribute to actually seeing the full sun for more than 3 weeks out of the year.

I did a little experiment a few years ago to test this. I had noticed that in the summer I feel much more energized, pleasantly optomistic and slept better than I did during the winter (heat of summer notwithstanding). Since I have unlimited tanning at my gym, I started going twice a week - primarily to maintain some color but also to see if it made any difference in my mood. It did. Undeniably. I have maintained this habit for several years and it hasn’t failed me yet. Yeah, some will argue the dangers of tanning and cancer and all that crap but I take preventative measures and am not terribly concerned over it. I’ve also noticed that my skin really seems to “like” being moderately tan. I used to have bouts of dry, flaky skin alternating with mild acne which doesn’t happen anymore. Perhaps because I am much more conscientious about using moisturizers and alpha/beta hydroxys.


You could always try it for 4 months and see if it makes any difference. And you’d get the side benefit of a more glowing complexion to boot!

My girlfriend has SAD; I want to tell you that the lights don’t work but they do. Hell, they lift my mood after about 1/2 hour exposure. Not anything drastic, but definately an improvement–I just feel better about being alive. I’d recommend that you were sunglasses, though, because they’ll dry your eyes out.

i grew up in san diego, goin to school up in washington for a change… personally i like the cold and haze when i am bulking as it feels ‘right.’ i dont like bein in the sun and cheer as much when im fat. just the way my mind works.

I know sparkin one always took care of my winter blues:))

I think i remember reading on this site something about, test levels increasing when you are exposed to UV rays, it was either in a thread or an actual article, damn cant remember, maybe someone else does though…

I think I’m just going to try to find a full-spectrum bulb and use that. I’ll also see how I feel after my tanning session (thanks karma); I need to tan up for Puerto Rico anyway!