Trip the light fantastic

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Lighting has moved on from Edison’s simple light bulb and now it not only illuminates, but also alters your mood, helps you sleep and even tackles depression

It is easy to take the humble light bulb for granted – just flick a switch to light up the room – but now the connected world of technology is making lighting intelligent.

In today’s perennially switched-on world, lighting, electronics and working non-stop play havoc with our circadian rhythms, affecting how we respond to light and darkness in a natural 24-hour cycle. This can lead to sleeplessness and stress, but lighting can play an important role in resetting your natural body clock.

Using a natural light ‘sunrise’ alarm clock can help you wake up or doze off in a more natural rhythm, with light that gradually dims and brightens, mimicking a natural sunrise and sunset which helps you develop a good sleep pattern.

These clocks can often change colours to enhance your mood and use simulated sunlight to help tackle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). One of the manufacturers, Lumie, explains that: “Studies have shown that wake-up lights like Lumie Bodyclock, that gradually turn on and get brighter during the last 30 minutes of sleep, can reduce complaints of sleep inertia. The light stimulates production of hormones that help us to get up and go, while suppressing those that bring on sleep.”

Increase productivity
Light can also give you more get-up-and-go during the day if you reach a midday slump. Light boxes that sit on your desk at work can help you feel more alert and there are even specially designed light bulbs that can help you feel more awake.


Seasonal Affective Disorder is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’. Symptoms include lethargy, a persistent low mood, irritability and depression and for some people these symptoms can have a significant impact on their everyday lives.

Although there are many factors that may contribute to SAD*, the NHS says: “The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly.” Light therapy has been shown to have a very positive effect on the condition and scientific studies have shown the beneficial response that white light and blue light therapy can have.

Aqua Sana uses light to help relax and stimulate you. For example the Alpine Steam room at Sherwood uses the influence of the Nordic light to evoke a feeling of relaxation, whilst the Aqua Mediation Room at Longleat forest with the gentle bubbles and changing colours create an oasis of total relaxation and multi-sensory stimulation.

Next time you are in our spa, sit back and let the light work it’s magic.

* Consult your doctor before beginning any light treatment.

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