Bus Stop Light Therapy Panels Brighten Up the Winter Doldrums

An energy company in northern Sweden is working to make the winter doldrums a little brighter.

Umea Energy has installed light therapy panels in 30 bus stops in a town north of Stockholm that gets only about five hours of daylight during its darkest winter months. The back-lit advertisements that once hung in the bus stop shelters will be replaced with these light panels for several weeks.

These panels are proven to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a result of lack of sunlight, causing one to feel tired and depressed from overproduction of the hormone melatonin. Commuters are encouraged to stand in front of the panels with their eyes open—for a full 30 minutes for the maximum effect.

In the U.S., SAD is a condition that affects around 5 percent of the population, but it is estimated that 10-20 percent have a milder form of the winter blues. While those in Sunny parts of the country may be exempt, most people know how it feels to want to stay curled up in bed all day in the winter months.

There are other ways to combat SAD. Avoid “blue light” from laptops, iPads, or phones before bed. Or turn to the old standards: comfy toe socks, hot cocoa, and snuggling. For now, Umea seems to have it right by encouraging its commuters not to let SAD ruin what could be a beautiful winter day.

Image via Umea Energy