Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Take Thirty Minutes of Light or Take a Vacation in the Sun

Today's Science Section of the New York Times illuminates the mysteries of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), now admitted to the ranks of a true disorder, that evolved in many many life forms, floral and faunal, to respond to the tilting of the earth during its annual rotation. When it gets dark and cold, the body seeks to hibernate, leaves fall off trees, annuals die having long ago sent their seeds -- hardy survivors over the winter -- on for next year's rising. Why we have named it a disorder baffles me, since it would appear to be adaptive. But why quibble.

Some people get very depressed by SAD during the winter months, when days grow shorter and it gets colder. You can evaluate your own body's propensity to respond to short days/long nights by taking the tests, for free, at the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (not a crank site).

It turns out that the best cure for SAD is (drum roll) more light! Apparently, once you have identified the cycles of your receptivity to light, all you need to do is shine some thirty minutes of bright light, and voila, in a few short days, the depression lifts. Much faster results than from taking an antidepressant.

Or, you could take a vacation to a spot on the globe where the sun shines longer.

I couldn't test for my circadian rhythms because the CET site was overloaded. Try again later. Good luck.