Let’s get real about winter: it’s depressing. As a freshmen at the University of Michigan, I am quickly learning the horrors of grey skies, slush on the streets, and cold so brutal it makes your skin flake and your lips turn blue. With this weather, it’s easy to feel straight up blah. Enter, seasonal affective disorder.

The Truth About SAD

According to the Mayo Clinc, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in season and causes you to feel moody. So, no, your winter blues are not just you being dramatic. This is a real medical condition, and lots of people suffer from it. Concerned? Don’t be. Help has arrived.

A key way to treat SAD is with light therapy. When the sky is dark and you’re trapped in the library, this may seem impossible. But, Verilux’s HappyLight is here to act as your super helpful sun replacement. According to the website, The HappyLight provides Natural Spectrum® light, comparable to daylight, which helps fight the tiredness associated with the winter blues.

Here’s How It Works

Natural Spectrum light cues the body’s natural energy enhancers and helps regulate and recalibrate the body’s cycles. This is supposed to reduce “sluggishness” and increase productivity. Intrigued, I decided to try the light out for myself.

The light looked nothing like I expected. It's a flat rectangle, and the instructions advise you to to put it on an angle 18 inches away from your face, so it doesn't shine directly into your eyes. There are two different brightness settings, and it is better to make it the brightest setting when it is earlier in the day (since it is meant to mirror the sun). 

Turning on the Light

The first time I used the light, I did five minutes on each side of my face and continued to add minutes each time I used it until I got to a total of 15 minutes. The first time I used the light I found myself thinking, "What's the big deal?"  I felt no different than I had before I turned on the light.

I used the light every day for two weeks.  After the first week, I was worried I was getting ripped off.  The only effects I felt were that the bright light shocked me and momentarily jolted me into a more awake state, but I didn't feel any big, revolutionary change.

I Finally See the Light

It was on the fifth day of my second week that I realized I wasn't as tired as my sleep-deprived-from-too-much-studying-and-Netflix self usually is.  When I compared how I felt in previous winters to how I was feeling then, I realized I wasn't as drowsy and bitter as usual.  The changes were subtle, but I felt more alert in class and had an easier time focusing and enjoying my conversations with friends.  Even going out at night in the tundra seemed more manageable.

Overall, I definitely wouldn't say that the HappyLight is a miracle worker. But, if you feel yourself going into hibernation mode, this is a quick, easy way to get a little more pep in your step and fight those winter blues.