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Light therapy specialist Lumie is supplying the lights for a light cafe running from today to 19th January at Leeds University Union. Now in its third year, the café provides an alternate revision space which is designed to improve students’ health and wellbeing. The lights will also be used in meditation and yoga workshops that will complement the café experience.
January is traditionally a low point in the academic year as students face the stress of exams and winter depression which, due to the lack of exposure to natural light, is at its worst. A 2015 report confirmed a rapid increase in demand for counselling, with one institution seeing an annual increase of more than 50%. This analysis, published at the start of the 2015/16 academic year, showed mental health problems on campus had ‘increased dramatically’ in recent years, rising from about 8,000 to 18,000 in the four years to 2012-13.
Lumie lights are available in both a revision and relaxation room to provide a boost to mood and energy. Lumie bright lights emit a much higher light intensity or lux (the amount of visible light a person receives at a given point) than standard lighting to provide typically 10,000 lux compared to 500 lux for a well-lit office. This exposure to light stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone that positively affects your mood, and less melatonin which makes you feel sleepy.
Light therapy provides relief for anyone on the winter blues spectrum, from those who experience a drop in their mood and energy to those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) who are so badly affected that it disrupts their ability to manage their daily routine. Even if you’re not affected by the winter, sitting with a bright light will make you feel more alert and energetic at any time of day. Typically, 30-60 minutes is enough to realise the benefits and the therapy is cumulative so it doesn’t have to be taken in one sitting.
"Well-being is a priority here at Leeds University Union, something that we're particularly conscious of this time of year with the stress of exams and assignments on top of other worries this time of year. With an increase in students accessing support for their mental health, we're excited to be able to provide the Lumie light space again to give students a safe space in which to promote their well-being"
Jess Reed, Student Welfare Officer, Leeds University Union.
“We can use light at any time of day to acutely boost our mood, level of alertness and ability to perform cognitive tasks. In the winter when our environmental light levels are at their lowest, using a light box while studying or in the morning when we wake up is an effective way to ensure we get enough light. Simply using a bright light box for 15-30 min can have a positive effect.”
Dr Victoria Revell, Circadian Rhythm Expert, Surrey University.
Specific Lumie products in use:
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