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If you are reading luxury travel diary, the chances are that winter is not your favourite time of year. If you suffer from the winter blues, you could be experiencing the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This recognised medical problem affects up to 10% of the population in the Northern hemisphere, and the list of symptoms include sleep problems, lethargy, depression and over-eating.

To some extent SAD is a normal reaction to the shorter, darker winter days – even animals are affected by the change in seasons. But for around 2% of the population, SAD can be a debilitating, even chronic condition, affecting phsyical and mental well being.

One of the best ways to treat SAD – without resorting to medication – is with light therapy. This essentially means exposing yourself to a special, controlled source of bright light. Light therapy is also effective at helping people with sleep problems, because daylight is one of the main environmental cues that keep our body clocks in sync. Light therapy can also help with jet lag.

Lumie is a British company have been making light therapy products since 1991. The Lumie Zest is a 2-in-1 device, combining a standalone SAD light with a wake-up alarm that functions as a dawn simulator. The unit is compact and takes up hardly any space so is ideal for packing away in your case. There are two buttons on the top; one to activate the ‘sunrise’ function, plus a snooze button.

Four additional buttons on the back let you change the alarm time, final sunrise brightness, sunrise duration (15 or 30 minutes), alarm volume and display brightness.

In light therapy or LT mode, the Zest functions as a standalone SAD light. Again you have control of the brightness and the length of your LT session (from 1 to 99 minutes).

Using the Zest as a dawn simulator doesn’t get rid of my SAD but it is a truly uplifting way to be woken in the morning and I swear by it. My Zest wakes me with it’s glow every morning. The light makes me feel like I am waking up on a sunny summers morning, rather than another grey old day in London.

Using it in light therapy mode does seem to improve my mood, I am not sure whether my own SAD is bad enough to justify sitting in front of a light, but the idea of using my new light to combat jetlag and to reset my body clock after crossing time zones is genius. Certainly, next time I travel a great distance, the Lumie Zest will be in my case.

Lumie Zest

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