Is it just me who tends to be irritable, less motivated, running for the cake and sweets when days are shorter?
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to get up and find enough energy to be alert in the darkest months of the year. I am not the chirpiest or happiest of people in the morning in the summer by any stretch of the imagination, but I manage to get up much more easily than I do in the winter.
Every single year, it starts when the clocks back for daylight saving time in October. November has always been the worst month of the year for me. The mere thought of it makes my chest tighten.
It was tough when I lived in the North of France and the sky was turning dark just before 5 p.m. When I moved to England, I had no idea it would be worse, and the grey canvass that is sometimes the sky in dull winter months would actually turn darker and darker as early as 3 p.m.
Leaving home for work in complete darkness always made me feel dreadful. I could never live further North, no matter how much I fell in love with the Scottish Highlands or Iceland when I visited.
I first heard about Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) about 6 or 7 years ago, and I very quickly put 2 and 2 together.
What is SAD? It is basically winter blues. People suffering from seasonal affective disorder have normal mental health throughout most of the year but tend to get anxious, lethargic or irritable in the winter. It made complete sense!
In the past few years, I have had a number of SAD lights and alarm clocks simulating sunrise. The first one was a NAF NAF one I was given as a present and I loved it. Although it helped, it used a regular light bulb and after a year or so, it stopped working. I then got a Philips one. I loved it but after a couple of years, I must have dropped it and the light stopped working (non-replaceable LED bulb).
I also have a large SAD light in my middle room, which gets quite dark and gloomy. I even bought a travel SAD light for my mum for Christmas. You could call me a SAD light expert, or at the very least an obese dive SAD light user! I use my SAD light for photography in the winter months. It is brilliant and it means not using the flash indoors, resulting in much nicer photos. A large number of my food photos are taken using my SAD light with a muslin over it to soften the harsh brightness of it.
Lumie has been on my mind for years, but despite the excellent reviews on Amazon, they were always slightly more expensive than the others I went for.
Last year, my sister-in-law asked for a Lumie Bodyclock for her birthday and she loved it so much I decided to invest when I got my new bedroom. When I got offered to try a Lumie product of my choice, I jumped at the chance!
I have to say I could have opted for all of them. If it was up to me, I would have a SAD light in every room of the house. I went for the versatile Lumie Zest, because it is so portable and can double up as a photo light on the go.
When I unpacked the Lumie Zest, I was even more impressed than I had anticipated. It is incredibly compact, which makes it the perfect travel companion, and a European plug is included, with a great clip-on system to easily convert my UK plug into a French one in a few seconds. Now that is what I call a travel SAD light!
It is really compact. Its stand, which can be placed in two different positions (one as a SAD light, one as a sunrise simulator) tucks neatly in the back of the Zest for when you are travelling.
The Lumie Zest’s design is modern and sleek yet it looks great in my retro-inspired office space.
Although I have been using sunrise alarm clocks for years, it is my first time trying a sunrise simulator that is also a SAD light and I have not been disappointed. It is an excellent SAD light and I love the fact you can fine-tune the intensity of the light and programme the length of time you spend in front of the light.
I find that with my big light in the living room, I tend to overdo it and spend most of the day with it on, resulting in regular headaches. That will not happen with Lumie Zest if you set it up.
I have been using my Lumie Zest since for a couple of months. I will not lie and say mornings became easy peasy from day 1, but I did notice an improvement straight away. Although I still snooze once and struggle to get out of bed, once I am up, I am up and considerably more energetic than usual and in a much better mood than the ‘normal’ me. I am also having one cup of coffee only, and do not feel like I need a second cup to face the morning.
Next year when the clocks go back, I might not be a happy bunny (who would be?), but I think I will know I can survive the winter with SAD.
The lovely people at Lumie are offering one of my readers their own Lumie Zest (lucky you!). To be in for a chance of winning this brilliant alarm clock / light, follow the instructions below.
How to enter the giveaway:
You can pick and choose a range of ways in which to enter. The only one you must click on to get into the draw is the one asking you to leave a blog post comment. You must also leave a comment telling us what benefits of light therapy you would most enjoy after checking Lumie’s website.
Entries are open until 23.59 p.m. GMT time on 22 March 2016. Good luck!
– The prize will be supplied directly by Lumie.
– The giveaway is open to UK residents over 18.
– All opinions and photographs are my own.