Arising from the idea of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Sol-a-day targets the lack of sun exposure, which affects general happiness and mood.
Students and office workers who study or work all day rarely get outside. Staying inside increases depression and lack of energy. Therefore, students and office workers make up the target audience for this product.
As opposed to other existing devices, Sol-a-day reminds the user to go outside.
Background: What is SAD?
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.
We’re specifically targeting what’s sometimes known as winter depression, which is caused by a lack of sunlight. The decreased exposure to sun causes a drop in serotonin levels, which is the neurotransmitter that affects mood. Not having enough sun can cause depression.
Northern countries such as Scandinavia often cope with SAD by wearing bright clothing. For instance, Scandinavian designer bkerkge, uses color to evoke a sense of cheerfulness to counterbalance the seasonal depression.
Previous Work on Light Therapy
Columbia University conducted a study on bright light therapy and its use in treating SAD, or winter depression.
The treatment of winter doldrums using light therapy began in 1980’s, but it’s still not as mainstream as drugs or psychotherapy to fight depression. However, research studies have shown that the sufferers of SAD require light exposure at levels higher than ordinary indoor lighting provides.
Because many people affected by SAD respond better to treatments at different times of the day (some respond better in the morning, some respond better in the evening), Sol-a-day can help people determine what time of the day light therapy or going outside would work the best.
We see Sol-a-day working with both light therapy and receiving normal sun exposure. However, we focus on sun exposure in our project.
Light therapy itself has some downsides because studies have shown that side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and eye pain occur.
Why go outside?
Not only does going outside increase one’s Vitamin D intake, research has shown that nature impacts general wellbeing.
As Harvard Health says, “Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because sunlight hitting the skin begins the circuitous process — the liver and kidneys get involved — that eventually leads to the creation of the biologically active form of the vitamin. Over all, research is showing that many vitamins, while necessary, don’t have such great disease-fighting powers, but vitamin D may prove to be the exception.”
In an article by the University of Minnesota, they reference studies that demonstrate that spending time outside improves general mood and takes people from being “depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced.”
“Checkup on Health: Go outside to cure the winter blues” by UC Davis advises taking a daily walk or eating lunch on a park bench, as simple solutions. Light therapy is only a solution for those severely impacted by SAD.
“Too much time in front of screens is deadly”
Says researchers at the University of Minnesota. They go on to say:
“Nature deprivation,” a lack of time in the natural world, largely due to hours spent in front of TV or computer screens, has been associated, unsurprisingly, with depression.
Therefore, in the age of digital technology, a wearable device reminding users to get outside is exceedingly relevant.
“A prescription for better health: go alfresco” Harvard Health Publications.
“Checkup on Health: Go outside to cure the winter blues” UC Davis – Health System.
“How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?” University of Minnesota.
“Q&A on Bright Light Therapy” Columbia University.
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)” Mayo Clinic.