Feeling under the weather this winter? If so, you're not alone, and you could be suffering from a seasonal condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. S.A.D. reduces life quality for millions of people around the world who suffer sleep problems, lethargy and tiredness in winter.
It’s caused by a lack of exposure to daylight, and full-blown S.A.D. can also lead to overeating, depression, anxiety, and social and behavioral problems. But help is at hand: 85% of sufferers respond well to light therapy.
It’s long been suspected that lack of daylight in winter was instrumental in triggering winter blues – indeed, ask anyone living in Northern Norway how hard winter days can be when the sun itself has problems getting up in the morning. But recent research confirms it, and doctors now recognize that light is an active neurobiological agent essential to maintaining the brain’s serotonin and melatonin levels. Winter darkness plays havoc with these chemicals, disturbing sleeping and waking patterns and often triggering depressions at the same time.
Light therapy with bright daylight lamps helps regulate your melatonin cycle to keep levels high at night (making you sleepy) and low in the day (keeping you alert). NASA were among the first to put this knowledge to good use: during four different Space Shuttle missions, light treatment was used to help workers adjust to their shift work schedules. The treatment gave such good results that it remains in use today, not only for astronauts, but also for ground crews.
Outside-In is a Cambridge, UK-based company that has been specializing in light therapy products for over 12 years, and is Europe’s leading supplier of light therapy products. One of Outside-In’s latest products – the Lumie Brightspark – is a stylish personal edition of their medical lightboxes that looks at home on your desk or next to your computer.
Getting your light therapy while you workBrightspark owes its sleek appearance to its construction in anodized, extruded aluminium from Hydro – a one-piece component that was surprisingly hard to manufacture, but makes the Brightspark light, strong and portable. It’s proving a popular product, being sold on the web, in department stores, from health magazines and recommended by doctors and therapists.
The Brightspark works while you do and sits neatly on a desk or shelf, or even clips onto a computer screen, providing your daylight dose and illuminating your workspace at the same time. Furthermore, its attractive anodized finish with stylish blue end-caps makes it an attractive item to have on your desk.
The future’s bright
Sales and marketing manager Samira Cherrouk in Outside In says that changing to aluminium boosted sales. “We redesigned it in aluminium to be more stylish for the office professional,” says Samira, “and it’s proving to be very successful throughout Europe,” she says. The original design was made of steel and impractical to carry around, and redesigning the product in aluminium was seen as pushing the product to a new level.
But it turned out to be a challenging part to extrude — and their first supplier had to give up after a series of failed attempts. However, after some help from Hydro’s extrusion experts in Warwick and Birtley, Newcastle, the problems relating to extrusion concentricity and surface finishing were resolved — and now, thanks to its lightweight aluminium construction, the Brightspark can be easily carried along with a laptop PC, widening its appeal and usability.
In Hydro, we delight in seeing our metals being used for innovative products that help improve people’s quality of life — and now, after a bit of help from our specialists, the Brightspark is offering thousands of people a brighter future this winter.