Round about early January, I had had just about enough of rain, cloudiness and dreary days.

I would go outside for a walk whenever it managed to stop pouring, but that didn’t seem very often.

It seemed we had gone about five days in a row without a drop of sunshine.

I went down to South Carolina to take a bird walk with a member of the Audubon Society and spent half the morning just standing in various spots where my face could turn directly at the sun. Blinking into the sun – a basic natural vision improvement exercise – I realized then and there I was sunlight deprived.

Upon my return back to Atlanta, I ordered an Alaskan Northern Lightbox (

Although over the years I had recommended various other clients to purchase a light box, this was the first winter where I personally just couldn’t take the darkness any longer and needed to get one myself.

The day my light box arrived, my boyfriend Ken and I put it together and I felt better IMMEDIATELY!

Since then, if I am sitting at my desk during the daytime, I turn on my light box and finally I feel somewhat human again.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mild form of depression, occurs when we don’t get enough sunlight.

Symptoms of SAD include:


Difficulty sleeping


Difficulty waking up in the morning

Carbohydrate craving

Feeling sluggish


Your brain needs sunlight to stimulate your pineal gland, which makes melatonin so that you can sleep soundly through the night.

Since getting my light box, I notice that my sleep has also improved.

Sunlight, in many ways, is like sleep – there is no substitute for sleep and there is no substitute for getting enough light.

I chose the Alaskan Northern Lightbox because it’s the same one used in the Veterans Administration hospitals. You can be 24 inches away from the box and still receive 10,000 Lux, a measure of brightness. One of the most important variables in choosing a lightbox is how far away you can be and still receive therapeutic benefits. Another client of mine has one, but her model requires her to be directly in front of it.

Broad spectrum lights are as close as you can get to natural sunlight without harmful UV rays that affect your skin and eyes. Apparently studies have found benefits from 2500 Lux, but those lightboxes require you to spend as many as six hours a day in front of them.

My lightbox is 2 feet long by 1 foot high and I set it to the right of my computer on my desk.

One of the things that I do in my healing work is determine how many hours of sunlight a person needs in order to remain mentally and physically healthy.

In my case, I need 12 hours of sunlight every day. I notice that I am always drawn to the most well lit places in a restaurant and spend as much time outdoors as possible, both walking and practicing qi gong in my garden.

Once I determine how many hours of sunlight a person needs, I also ask what else a person could do in cases where they are not able to spend that much time outdoors or in natural sunlight.

Typically, if I practice at least 3 hours of yoga every week I can stay balanced even if I don’t get enough sunlight.

However, this winter, I was relieved to set up my lightbox and have been so thankful that I have found a way to get enough light.