September 4, 2008 Have you noticed a decline in your energy levels over winter? Find yourself needing more sleep, feeling depressed or overeating? You may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately abbreviated to SAD), a phenomenon which is becoming better understood through research. The most common form of therapy for SAD is light therapy, in which the patient is exposed to specific wavelength lights to trigger the biological processes that keep us more upbeat in summertime - and this is the theory behind the LightFrame from Philips, a computer monitor with a switchable bright blue-lit frame that gives workers the ability to self-administer a mild form of light therapy as they work.
SAD is incredibly common around the world, particularly in areas such as Scandinavia where the winters are long, cold and dark. Many cultures celebrate winter solstice with riotous parties that are as much about a release from the depression of winter as anything else. While some suffer worse than others, most people find themselves feeling somewhat down through the winter months.
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The potential causes are manifold, but one of the most powerful is the lessened sun exposure we get in the winter months - both because the days are shorter and because the colder weather tends to keep us inside for longer. Light therapy has proven very effective at managing SAD; bright sunlight itself is the best option, or extremely bright white light sources (around 10,000lux) - but the former isn't always available and the latter can be very annoying over the exposure period.
More recent research would indicate that the specific wavelengths that cause the SAD-relieving effects are in the blue region - 460nm to 485nm - and that much less intrusive levels of the right blue lights can be as effective as the higher intensity of sunlight or white light.
Which brings us to this new LightFrame 220XW9 monitor from Philips. It's nothing too complicated, simply a high quality, nicely designed 22-inch widescreen LCD monitor with an extra switch that activates the LightFrame - bright blue lights are embedded around the monitor and tuned to the specific wavelengths that do the most to alleviate SAD.
Philips claims that test users have found themselves noticeably less fatigued through a working week, focusing better, feeling rested and relaxed and experiencing less eye strain. We'd like to try one this winter!
No pricing has yet been released but the 22" LightFrame monitor should be available in November in key markets.