Any experiment with tanning beds and blue light to cure SAD ?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 29, 2011 at 1:50 AM

Have you experimented with tanning beds and blue light-full spectrum lights to cure Seasonal Affective Disorder ? What else have you found to be effective ?

Let me share my experience with them.

Some context:

  • I live in Montreal, QC, Canada
  • I am mixed french-algerian: brown eyes, dark skin (halfway between white-french and north african)
  • Once I have a base tan, I never burn (as an example, after getting progressive exposure for 2-3 weeks, I can stay under Florida's sun for 8 hours in a row on the beach without getting sunburned.
  • I do get some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder every winter (always tired, harder to get out of bed, less willing to do sport and outdoor activities, less socializing, ...)
  • I do sun cravings. I use every single opportunity to get tanned, I just love it, I feel great, it gives me my needed energy boost, and I feel that I never have enough of it.

What usually happens is the following :

  • September arrives: I'm all super-excited by the previous summer, completly tanned, packed with energy.
  • As weeks pass, I'm less and less energized. I sometimes get the occasional boost of getting tanned when sun comes back for a day or two, but it gets less frequent.
  • November-December: My energy levels are next to zero. The weather is cloudy, grey, no sun, I find it depressing. At the end of december, it's usually super hard for me to get up in the morning, and I feel like watching movies and relaxing all day long.
  • January-february-march: sun comes back, daylight lasts longer : I feel a little better thanks to sunlight. I'm still super tired, but I feel a little bit better.
  • April-May-June : It takes me months to recover by using every single opportunity to get tanned. I end up feeling 100% great in july-august.

So, I wanted to do something about it, and even though nobody agrees on whether tanning devices are a good thing or not, I decided I should give it a try. So last september, I bought a standup tanning booth from Mercola, full spectrum lightbulbs for my whole apartment and a Zadro Sunlight 365 from Amazon (blue light device). My reasoning was: the tanning device will fix the vitamin D, and the Zadro will fix my melatonin and cyrcadian rhythm.

I started using the Zadro device a few minutes every day when I woke up, and started using the tanning booth during 2 minutes each side (front and back) every morning. As I felt the device wasn't burning my skin, I progressively increased the exposure up to 10 minutes each side every day (20 min total). Basically enough to feel that something has happened on my skin, but not enough to look like a beach boy. People can barely see that I get tanned, as my skin is only slightly tanned.

I then realized that the Zadro was not changing anything to my mood, so I started using it 8 hours per day to see if it made a difference, but I came up to the conclusion that no matter whether I use the blue light or not, it doesn't change anything: I'm super happy when the weather is sunny, and I feel down when the weather is cloudy. And it gets harder and harder to wake up in the morning. So my melatonin and cyrcadian rhythms are definitely still messed up, no matter how much blue light and full spectrum light I get. (The blue light thing is annoying, so I stopped it, but I kept the full spectrum lights all over my apartment, which provide awesome white-lightning that I love)

But I continued the tanning sessions, every day, sometimes skipping a day or two. 10x2 minutes every day. And we're now at the end of december, and I have never felt that good in december. Tanning did not fix my ability to easily get up in the morning, nor the fact that I feel asleep earlier in the afternoon (compared to summer), but it did fix my overall energy levels. I don't feel overboosted like in summer time, but I don't feel completely down like I usually do. In other words: I feel just fine.

So, my conclusion is that it's good for me. It makes me feel great, even though it doesn't fix all my winter issues. Oh, and of course, I'm eating a LC-High Fat diet.



on December 29, 2011
at 02:23 AM

sure, just did it.


on December 29, 2011
at 01:53 AM

Can you make this a question? Otherwise it's a blog post and this site is the place for posting questions. If you edit it to make it a question, I'll reopen it. Otherwise it will be deleted.

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on December 29, 2011
at 03:33 AM

Yep - I'm up north too. I have a Philips GoLITE blue light that I use in the mornings at work. I suspect you didn't use your blue light correctly. A few minutes wouldn't cut it for most people - 15-30 minutes is much more common. And then EIGHT HOURS a day would totally mess you up - that's not how it's supposed to be used - no wonder it didn't reset you. It's not supposed to be your default. SAD lights usually have an excellent track record when used properly.

I happily take big doses of D3 drops in coconut oil - about 50,000 IUs a week, and I still test just average-good.



on December 29, 2011
at 10:41 AM

My SAD completely disappeared when I got my D level up on the high end. I last tested at 91 ng/ml and take 8,000 IUs/day.

I am dark-complected, too, and never seemed to make enough D from sun exposure.

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