After a long, record-breaking British summer of scorching hot temperatures, autumn is begining to slowly creep up on us.
Our days will gradually get shorter and shorter, and before we know it the days of leaving and returning for work in darkness will have arrived. Hosepipe bans and choruses of ‘it’s coming home’ will soon be but a distant memory.
While most of us are able to just make a hot chocolate, throw a blanket over ourselves and begin counting down the days til next summer, for some people dealing with the changes in weather, ecology and amount of daylight is not nearly as easy.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or 'winter depression' as it’s also known, is a medical condition which the NHS estimates affects 1-15 people in the UK between September and April every year. Symptoms range from low energy levels, to low self-esteem and anxiety.
The signs of SAD and ways of combating it are not nearly as known as they should be, leading sufferers to not realise what they’re experiencing is something that if not properly addressed will likely never go away.
In this blog we look at SAD in greater detail and discuss how the natural, underused powers of daylight can thwart winter depression by exploring different ways of harnessing the wonders of the sun and incorporating it into everyday living.
What Are The Symptoms Of SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that is most prominent during the darkest months of the year; December, January and February.
The NHS lists common symptoms as:
• Sleep problems
• Loss of motivation and ability to concentrate
• Social problems
• Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities
• Loss of libido
• Weakened immune system
• Mood changes
The NHS says the biggest cause of SAD in people is reduced exposure to sunlight that occurs during the shorter autumn and winter days.
Experts believe that this lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect levels of melatonin (hormone that makes you sleepy), serotonin (mood, sleep and appetite hormone) and your body’s internal clock.
SAD is existent in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but is very rare in people living within 30 degrees of the Equator, where daylight hours are long, constant and extremely bright.
How Do You Treat SAD?
Unlike with most other medical conditions, the NHS do not recommend any kind of drug or therapy as a remedy. No, what the NHS suggests is to get more natural sunlight in your life.
There are a variety of ways of doing this, the easiest and most obvious being to simply get outside more often, whether that be enjoying the last remnants of daylight in the garden after work or by making more of the great outdoors on weekends.
But with so much of our time now increasingly spent indoors, at home and at work, exposure to sunlight when sitting at our desks or binge watching TV shows on our sofas, is even more important.
This is why it is a smart idea to ensure your home is designed in a way which makes the most of natural daylight and is not too dependent on artificial lighting. This will provide a long-term solution with long-term benefits for your health and well-being.
With the sun and warm weather not expected to go down on 2018 just yet, there is still plenty of daylight to be enjoyed and now is as good a time as ever to get daylighting your home with roof windows or rooflights in preperation for the bleaker months ahead.
How Can I Add More Daylight?
While all habitable rooms should already have integral vertical windows installed to provide daylight and ventilation, roof windows and rooflights are renowned for being able to provide three times as much daylight as their more upright counterparts.
Daylighting has always been one of the key motivating factors for homeowners when it comes to designing a home extension or loft conversion. This motivation is now as strong as ever with so many more of us now a lot more conscious of how our homes affect the environment.
While it's true that lightbulbs are often the only affordable means of keeping our homes lit during evening and night, many households depend on them to illuminate rooms during the daytime too, even during the summer months when there is an abundance of natural light to be found outside our walls. Roof windows and rooflights can totally eliminate the need for artificial lighting during the afternoon and evening in many cases.
Pitched roof windows fit into the roof at an angle that best utilizes the sun so that more light is reflected into the room below. Depending on size and quantity, flat rooflights can shower rooms with sunlight no end to brighten up the area below, as well as making it feel bigger and more enticing.
The added light and warmth that roof windows and rooflights bring to a home not only immediately improves living standards, but also helps homeowners save a significant amount of money on energy bills in the long run.
If your patio doors or french doors are not allowing enough daylight into your home as you’d like, bifold doors can make the world of difference, improving the look and feel of your home both when open and closed. Read a testimonial on our aluminium bifold doors from a recent Sterlingbuild customer to find out more.
Whichever room in the home you want to add natural light to, Sterlingbuild has a daylighting solution to help combat those winter blues and get you enjoying life all year round. See our window recommendations for different rooms below for further inspiration or visit our Extension Hub.