Researchers suggest SAD Syndrome is caused by a mis-timed sleep-wake rhythm

by Re-Timer on 3 Feb 2014

Researchers suggest SAD Syndrome is caused by a mis-timed sleep-wake rhythm

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD syndrome is a low-mood experienced primarily during the winter months. Symptoms can include loss of energy; weight gain and difficulty concentrating.

Researchers from Flinders University state that SAD syndrome is the result of a mis-timed circadian rhythm. Their research shows that bright light visual stimulation (light which enters the eyes), can change the timing of the sleep-wake rhythm. Bright light therapy has been used to treat the range of disorders caused by a mis-timed body clock including SAD syndrome.

Flinders researcher’s hypothesis that an insufficient sleep cycle may contribute to symptoms of SAD. Sunlight naturally times our sleep-wake rhythm. However, long winter months can disrupt this light reaching our eyes which can result in sub-optimal sleep.

The Mayo Clinic states that light therapy is a proven treatment for SAD syndrome. Light therapy can start to improve symptoms of SAD within a few days. In some cases, however, it can take two or more weeks.

There are a range of light devices available to treat SAD syndrome. Many are cheap imports and not optimised to treat SAD syndrome. Care should be taken when selecting the right light device.

One key selection criteria is the wavelength or color of light used. Clinical research has found that “Identifying optimal wavelengths for light treatment is important in optimizing phototherapy efficacy…Green light provides a treatment effect superior to that of red light…”

The information contained on this website is not intended to be used as medical information or as a substitute for your own health professional’s advice. As a matter of good practice we recommend you seek the advice of your health professional before selecting a light device.

Visit the following references for more information about SAD Syndrome and treatment.

Flinders University – Psychology Research Lab

Mayo Clinic – Seasonal Affective Disorder

National Centre for Biotechnology Information