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A lightbox built with love

Sadlightbox

My pick for best gift of ’08, Boris writes –

My sister suffers from seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression. A commonly prescribed therapy is light therapy – about thirty minutes of bright light in the morning. Bright in this context means more than 10 000 Lumens. You can of course buy commercial light-boxes, but I wanted to construct one by myself…

What a good brother, truly heartwarming. He even cared enough to share his build process ;)

16 thoughts on “A lightbox built with love

  1. You can get a commercial ceiling fixture for $30 to $40 that’s quite bright. A 24″ square fixture for a suspended ceiling is convenient. Add polycarbonate (outdoor glazing type) for a UV filter.

  2. Bob, “going outside” is a wonderful option. Unless you live in a climate that is routinely dim/grey/dark/cloudy during the winter. Then, not so much. I’m sure it’s much funnier when you’re not the one dealing with it.

    The box is a good idea, just be sure if you do this to use full-spectrum bulbs. You don’t need anything UV-emitting, but just spraying your optic nerve with any old light doesn’t help. Full-spectrum bulbs are typically a little pricier, but that’s what you need.

  3. I actually found a few papers that suggested that blue light was more effective than longer wavelengths, but all agreed that the most important aspect is luminance. If the light is strong enough, it doesn’t have to be full-spectrum at all!

  4. The key here is the ultraviolet radiation. It causes the production of vitamin D. It’s the shortage of that which causes the SAD. You can drink vitamin D enriched milk, replace the household lights with full spectrum lights, or get a special light box.

    If you watch the old “Space 1999” series you’ll see a special room in the moon base with special lights. People were supposed to go sit in that room for a certain amount of time each day.

  5. I built one based on blue LEDs after seeing the papers that suggested blue light is what does it and seeing commercial units on sale. It’s quite bright (a lot of LEDs), and I made it slowly brighten the LEDs from off to full over 10 minutes and then stay on for 30 minutes. I wanted to simulate a nice bright sunrise to make people feel awake and alert.

    Nobody who’s used it has had any benefit, and I know some people who have tried the commercial blue LED ones who also said they didn’t notice a difference after a few weeks of use.

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