Are you struggling at the thought of getting through the rest of the winter? Do you just want to crawl under the duvet and wake up when it’s Spring. Well you’re not alone.

More and more people are battling with the cold dark days and finding it hard to find the get up and go to get through the day. We want to sit around indoors, watching telly and decrying the horrible wet dreich weather.

The good news is that feeling like this is not your fault. Last year was one of Scotland’s second-wettest in almost a century. And wet days mean dark dull conditions. We’ve simply not had enough light or sunshine this year.

Think about what the Europeans get? The main reason so many of us head abroad in the summer is find some sunshine. But as the credit crunch closes in, many of us just don’t have the cash to jump on a plane for that ‘all important’ blue-sky holiday.

Unless you suffer from clinical or post-natal depression, the lack of ‘oomph’ your feeling could be related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the depression that hits during the darkest times of the year.

Besides depression, symptoms also include low energy levels, overeating, a craving for carbohydrates, weight gain, an increased need for sleep, and a lack of interest in sex and in socialising.

sleepLife coach Frank Shapiro says: “SAD has always been around. However, recently, the act of feeling down when there is a lack of sunlight has been given a name, a label. This can have both a positive and a negative effect.

“Positive effect comes from the fact that sufferers do not feel they are alone in what they are feeling and can feel better because people then know they are not putting it on. The negative side can be that because it is a recognised disorder they feel vindicated in what they have been telling people for years and become a ‘victim’ of it.

“But there are lots of ways of combating it; there are special sunlight boxes that can be used as a substitute to the sun or people can get out of the house more even when it is dull because the suns rays still penetrate the earth when it is cloudy,.

“Alternatively, you can join a SAD group or forum so that you can pick up tips and hints from other sufferers as well as pass on your own tips.”

According to the – a voluntary UK National Voluntary Organisation dedicated to supporting sufferers – modern living has altered nature’s cues as our modern day no longer starts at the break of dawn and ends at sunset.

A spokesman said: “Diagnosis of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is increasing in the UK not because of any change in light levels but because people are more aware of the condition and are not just passing it off as depression. Also GP’s are becoming more aware of SAD symptoms and are able to diagnose the condition at an earlier stage.

“The most effective treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder is undoubtedly a light box, however we only recommend a certain Light Boxes on as there are many untested, uncertificated products that have flooded the market over the last 12 months that are little more effective than a standard bulb.

“Light boxes may seem quite expensive but the ones that we recommend are medically proven products that will relieve SAD symptoms and can be used year after year.”

The SAD organisation recommends light therapy as a way of increasing energy levels and alleviating the symptoms. Log onto for official recommendations.


We tried a Lumie Bodyclock Elite…

Once you’ve set the ‘light alarm’; it wakes you with a sunrise – a soft light that gets lighter as it gets later; you can also opt for birdsong. At first, the new way of waking is very annoying and despite turning the light down, the Lumie ‘perseveres’ and keeps coming back on. This is meant to help regulate your sleep/wake pattern.

Makers claim that you’ll wake in a better mood, find it is easier to get up and feel more energetic during the day. Did we? We got used to the light after a while and the urge to throw it out the window when it kept coming back on, eventually got less. Interestingly, our children loved it and seemed to wake up happier and calmer.

As for us, we can’t say we noticed a huge change, except that it made mornings less stark; we used it for a month. The manufacturers also say that in clinical trials dawn stimulators like the Bodyclock Elite have been shown to improve mood, energy, productivity and the quality of sleep and awakening. It can also help SAD sufferers with dark winter mornings.

According to Dawn Simulators only treat some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, so they cannot be classed as a medically proven SAD Light. “They are excellent products in their own right, but they must not be confused with SAD Lights as they only treat part of the problem. Dawn Simulators will promote good sleep and help you to wake naturally in the mornings.”

VERDICT: We think it may help night shift workers, plus it is a gentle way to wake up but you should be allowed to try it first before buying because they are expensive. The Bodyclock Elite is £129.99, from John Lewis.