A reader asks:
Living in upper New York State with low winter daylight, I wonder if flooding the house with overhead bright light to simulate overhead sunshine would be of any benefit. I mean to make it as bright as a sunny day outside, inside the entire house. I’m sure our electric bill would rise, but leaving our home would be an extreme solution. I have noticed a pattern of winter anxiety in my daughter for four years now (she’s 10) and I know I can deal with my SAD, but if I can change it for her, I want to. We have taken extended winter vacations south and everyone sees benefits. Would a move be better in the long run? Thanks for supplying this forum. There are many interesting questions and answers. It is very informative
Your proposal, we have to say, is well-intentioned but impractical as well as unnecessary. Instrumenting overhead lighting at full daylight intensity has been done only in a few research laboratories, at great expense, including for dedicated high-power air conditioning to expel the high heat load. It makes more sense to follow established winter light therapy regimens, which focus illumination on the final period of sleep or the period immediately following wake-up. Almost always, that is sufficient to allay winter symptoms.
We suggest completing our Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire, and scheduling restricted light exposure accordingly. Kids may find dawn simulation most acceptable, since it is automated in the bedroom and requires no daytime behavioral compliance. If your family is contemplating a move south, before making the commitment we recommend testing one winter at your selected destination to make sure it does the trick. Some people are disappointed to find that winter depression can follow them down south, even though days are relatively longer than in the north.