Top positive review
284 people found this helpful
Affordable, portable light therapy
on February 6, 2009
I have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder, which didn't rear its head until I left sunny south Florida, where I grew up, and moved midway up the Atlantic Coast after graduating from college. Although our winters where I live now are *nothing* like the harsh, gray winters in the northern US and Canada, I do tend to feel a mild case of the blues each November-March. Adding to this problem are the following:
1) My internal clock is skewed: I'd prefer to go to bed at 3 am and wake up at 11. I've never been a "morning person."
2) I work in a dreary, cubicle-filled, fluorescent-lit office for 8-9 hours a day, nowhere near a window.
This past November, I did several days' worth of research into SAD and related conditions (my internal clock is connected to SAD!) and eventually decided I was a reasonable candidate for light therapy. I had been eyeing this Zadro Sunlight unit, and when it went on sale before the holidays, I bought it. (Might as well start small, right? What if it ended up not working? I didn't want to waste hundreds of dollars on a huge designer SAD light. The Zadro unit fit the bill, literally.)
I can honestly say that it has worked, but it took about 4 weeks of daily use for me to notice a big change. The human brain interprets blue LED light as sunlight, and that's why this unit is effective. I find the strongest light intensity (100%) to be too great, so I set it to 50% and leave it on for 60 minutes in the morning at my desk. It has noticeably helped me feel happier and more alert. Surprisingly (I was doubtful I would see any effect), it has helped regulate my internal clock: I wake up more easily in the morning, get hungry at normal times (noon instead of 2:00 pm), and start to feel tired around 10:30-11:00 pm. It's a huge difference.
Unit specifications, according to the user's manual:
- 10,000 LUX
- 35 individual blue LED lights with variable intensity (10% - 100%)
- No UV rays
- Clock: The numbers you see on the small blue panel in the picture (03:14) are the clock. I think it can only show 24-hour time, which I personally prefer; but this may be annoying to some people. The directions don't tell you how to change it to a 12-hour clock.
- Timer: You can set the light to turn off after 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes.
- Programs: Three separate program options (A, B, C) allow you to pre-set the desired intensity and duration of light.
The unit functions via power adapter, is very lightweight -- some would say flimsy -- and measures about 5" x 2.5". It comes with a two-compartment black microfiber carrying case and a small circular battery for the clock. The lights will only turn on if you plug in the power cord. The directions are pretty worthless, and the buttons aren't terribly intuitive; but the unit is not difficult to figure out. I haven't have any problems programming or turning on my unit.
Make sure you do some research beforehand, as the recommended "dosages" (duration/intensity) of light are different for each person, although it seems to be universally beneficial to use the light first thing in the morning as you go through your normal routine (breakfast, computer, workout, etc.). While in use, you should place the unit at arm's length, angled slightly away from you, just a few degrees outside your direct line of vision; simply glancing at it, very briefly, 1-2 times during each session should be sufficient.
A word of caution, though: while you're programming your Zadro or messing with the buttons, angle it to the side so it doesn't shock your eyes if/when it suddenly turns on (ouch!). Some reviewers have bemoaned the light's intensity, and I only have one response to that: the directions clearly state NOT to stare DIRECTLY at the light! :) If it hurts your eyes to glance at the unit, angle it farther away and/or decrease the light intensity. (For what it's worth, I actually find it quite pleasant to glance at the turquoise-indigo colored lights. It's a very soothing color that reminds me of the Caribbean.)
I can absolutely recommend the Zadro Sunlight unit to those who would benefit from light therapy, whether for SAD or internal clock resetting. Good luck!
** Update, Feb. 21, 2010: I am still using the Zadro Sunlight unit each morning, and the kind of "pick me up" effect it has is amazing, especially in the winter. I did notice that a lot of other reviewers are having terrible problems with the unit's flimsiness. Although I can't speak for anyone else's experience, I haven't had any problems with mine -- but that may be because it lives in one spot on my desk and doesn't get moved around at all, ever. If you're looking for a very sturdy and/or battery-operated unit, you may want to opt for another brand/model. However, I still love my Zadro and use it every day.