Why I Bought a SAD Lamp

The second week of January, I went on an incredible yoga retreat in Quimixto, Mexico. I had every reason to be feeling good – the days were filled with sunshine, fresh air, fresh food, yoga, stretching, meditation, journaling, and reflecting.

It was just the reset I needed, and I was really excited to take on my “normal” everyday back in Chicago with a clearer mind and optimistic disposition. 

I usually dread leaving vacation, but this time, I was really excited to take what I had learned and feel the internal power to take on my days exactly how I wanted.

I planned on waking up early every morning for a power yoga class, giving myself time to meditate, make some fresh celery juice and journal or write before starting my work day.

I got back on a Saturday, slept in and took a late yoga class Sunday morning. I made a visit to one of my favorite stores, The Ruby Room [in Chicago], bought a new Oracle deck, spent time with friends, and was feeling all of the energy I’d hoped.

Then Monday rolled around, and despite the grand plan I made for myself, it was SO hard to get out of bed in the morning. I was tired throughout the day and exhausted by 5pm.

I figured I probably needed to catch up on sleep.

Then Tuesday rolled around and I felt the same way. And Wednesday. And Thursday, and Friday and so on.

I felt really disappointed in myself that I made all of these plans but felt exhausted every day and couldn’t get out of bed in the morning to take action.  

So I brought it up with my therapist amidst other things that have been going on in the last month since I’d seen her. I subtlety mentioned that I think I may be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder but also, I had no idea why I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.  

I had just gotten back from this reviving trip so “shouldn’t” I be ready to take on each and every day as I wanted?

Intuitively, I knew I was being affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to blame something when I felt like maybe I was just being lazy or not trying hard enough.

But – Seasonal Affective Disorder – or SAD, for short - is very real and I’m very much affected by it every winter. I love Chicago to its core, but the short days that are often filled with gloom or at the very least, sparse sunshine, are hard to ignore.  

The “Winter Blues” are real.

SAD is different for everyone. Typically, SAD can start in late fall and last until early spring and bring on symptoms of mild depression that can escalate. It can also make concentrating difficult or present itself in loss of interest in activities that would you would normally enjoy.

In my case, it’s left me feel exhausted and getting out of bed in the morning is less than desirable.

Real talk: I had about 10 alarms going off every single morning and would finally wake up at the latest possible time.

So, my therapist recommended I buy a SAD Lamp for Light Therapy. Aside from laughing at the punny name, I realized this isn’t the first winter I’ve experienced this so I decided to hop online to do some research.

SAD Lamps are created with a special light – 10,000 lux – that mimics natural outdoor light. The special light helps your brain to release serotonin required to regulate sleep & mood.

After some research, I opted for this lamp from Circadian Optics.

Aside from being the top rated & Amazon’s choice, I liked the position of the light itself; the light should be positioned above or at eye level and pointing slightly down. Rather than sitting on a counter and blazing straight into my retina, this lamp is perfect for placing on the bathroom counter and turning on while I get ready in the morning or placing on my desk while I write or crank through e-mails.

Despite my excitement when my SAD Lamp arrived, I held off on using it that night as Light Therapy for SAD should be used in the morning for 20-30 minutes [for best results]. (Using them in the evening can disrupt your sleep schedule.)

Surprisingly, I felt a difference after the first few days.

I’ve been using it consistently and it’s made a significant difference in my mood. It’s helped improve my concentration because I’m not tired all the time.

Most importantly, it’s helped regulate my sleep cycle – and if there’s one thing I can appreciate it’s a good night’s sleep.

*Note: This post is NOT sponsored; Circadian Optics is the light I chose based on my own research, and because it’s helping me, I want to share it!