The Bodyclock Experiment

Marie Claire's Emma Sibbles takes on Seasonal Affective Disorder, but will she win?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to half a million people in the UK in the winter months. Symptoms include a desire to oversleep (check), disturbed sleep (check), lethargy (yep), overeating carbs and sweet food (take a look in the fridge), anxiety (uh-huh), mood changes (I’m sure my friends will agree with this one) and a weakened immune system(surprisingly, I’m OK on this one).

Each winter, I decide that I cannot stand another winter in this country and that I need to move abroad. And then don’t do anything about it except moan. (Well, one year I took French classes, but the climate in Paris is pretty similar to London.)

I am not an extreme sufferer of SAD, but rather, like most people I talk too, I find getting up in the morning nearly impossible. Especially once the clocks go back. Obviously there’s nothing new in people wanting a lie-in, especially when the alternative involves the tube at rush-hour. But I’m usually a morning person. In the summer I am usually out of bed by 6 am, even if I don’t have to be up for hours. But once the dark mornings arrive, I get more and more lethargic and sluggish.

So this year, I have decided to do something about it, rather than move countries. I am going to try out a Lumie Bodyclock, which provides an artifical sunset to help you get to sleep and a sunrise to help you wake up.

The idea is that there will be no awful sudden switch from pitch black to bright light, but instead a gradual change giving the cue to your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones (melatonin) and increase levels of cortisol that give you that get up and go. In theory, this will get my sleep/wake cycle back on track.

Over the next month I will be documenting whether the Bodyclock helps me and how.

For more information on SAD, go to www.sada.org.uk and for info on Lumie products go to www.lumie.com

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