SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is experienced by some four million people in the UK. And ten million others are affected by a less drastic form of the disorder, known as the winter blues.
Increasingly, companies are looking to protect their hard-working staff from the effects of light deprivation by topping up their lux levels artificially inside the office.
“The best cure-all for SAD is lots of light,” says Jonathan Cridland, founder of light firm Lumie. “On a bright day, the brightness outside reaches around 100,000 lux. In offices, it’s usually around 500 lux. The absolute minimum amount of lux it takes to shift SAD is 2,500: that’s where our products come in.”
Lumie sells a range of light boxes that mimic the effects of daylight. They range from £49.99 – over £300 and can shift the symptoms of SAD in as little as 25 minutes. The firm turns over £10m through this niche, and the market’s still growing: “Our sales are up 35 per cent on last year,” says Cridland.
Another purveyor of mood-lifting lights (but to the corporate market) is Costas Michael, founder of light bulb supply company City&West. “We’ve seen a 65 per cent spike in sales of our SAD tubes since October,” says Michael. “These bulbs recreate daylight, which enhance efficiency in the workplace.”
Michael himself uses the lights throughout his office and has noticed a marked difference in his staff. “It’s a good investment,” he says. “We have them 100 per cent throughout the building.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in smiles,” he jokes. “ If you’re not an SAD sufferer, you’ll only get a slight lift. If you’ve actually got the disorder, you notice a huge difference.”
It is an investment, however. These lights are not cheap at £6-10 per bulb, seven times the price of your standard fluorescent tube.