Light Photo-therapy SAD and Narcolepsy
I decided to write about Iglo Light Cafe in Stockholm but unfortunately halfway through my research I found out that they were forced to shut the photo-therapy centre last year due to unforeseen increased rent. If you are interested light therapy or photo-therapy you can join their Facebook page here so that you will know when and if they decide to reopen.
As I am in Sweden during the darkest time of the year, I decided to look into light therapy and subsequently stumbled across an article online at The Local: Sweden’s News in English, and found that SAD sufferers who do indeed find it a sorrow to bear the long winter months in Sweden, photo-therapy may be a ray of hope. Better known as light therapy, photo-therapy has been used in Sweden for years as a means of combating SAD.
SAD is a psychological disorder characterized by depression, tiredness, decreased motivation, a tendency to sleep excessively and a craving for carbs and sweets. In severe cases, sufferers may experience intense anxiety and irritability, and the condition can even lead to suicidal tendencies.
Personally, I don’t think it’s a psychological disorder. I believe it’s directly related to the body’s capacity to absorb/convert/produce/retain: Melatonin/Vitamin D/Serotonin which turns it into a neurological condition rather than a psychological one. I also find the symptoms of SAD quite similar to narcolepsy in many ways.
Photo-therapy is most commonly administered through the use of a light box which emits a measured amount of balanced spectrum light from fluorescent tubes. “Clinically, patients do benefit from light exposure and light does indeed have certain biological benefits” says Hetta, a Professor in Psychiatry at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The professor also says that there is no conclusive scientific proof of the effectiveness of photo-therapy. This article is from 2008 so hopefully there is research available today. Personally, I think that there must exist conclusive medical proof for the effectiveness of sun exposure and uptake of Vitamin D?
In 2005, Kate Melville wrote for Science A GoGo, referencing The American Journal of Psychiatry quoting, .. a study, appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry, has found that light therapy effectively treats mood disorders, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other depressive disorders. The study, led by a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina (UNC), also found that the effects of light therapy, also known as phototherapy, are comparable to those found in many clinical studies of antidepressant drug therapy.
Light boxes can be easily purchased from the internet for home use, but there are other options. The Iglo Lightcafé, opened in Stockholm in 2004 by Martin Sylwan, is Sweden’s and possibly the world’s, first light cafe. Rather than sitting next to a light box, the idea of the Lightcafé is that the whole room is illuminated with constant, unshadowed rays. On entering the cafe, visitors don white robes and are able to buy food and drink or even take breakfast.
“I think it’s a great way to treat SAD,” says Sylwan. “From the people I’ve spoken to, it really helps.” Sylwan explained what originally made him start up the Lightcafé: “When I personally suffered from depression, light therapy was prescribed by my doctor. The treatment was in the psychiatric ward of a hospital and although I found the treatment helpful, I really didn’t like going there.” Finding medical institutions “in no way a positive experience”, Sylwan decided to create a more relaxing environment for light therapy.
Many working environments are not properly lit and there is not enough natural light from windows during the dark season. During some parts of the year, it can also be a real challenge to find the time on a daily basis to spend time outdoors while it is sunny. This makes people naturally low in energy and affects performance, and for some people it can even be a real difficulty that affects day-to-day activities.
If you have narcolepsy and don’t get enough exposure to the sun on a daily basis, I would definitely try to be referred for photo-therapy or purchase a light box. Only purchase from a reliable vendor and ensure you get the right supportive technology i.e. the most up to date technology light tubes to suit you.
If you know of any Light Cafe’s or therapy rooms – Please contact me with the details so I can create a contact list/sheet.