The Science Museum in London has found a unique way to help people beat the winter blues-by setting up a cafe signed serving people the much-needed dose of light .
The Dana Cafe offers free 20-minute light treatments to counter the effect of dark winter days.
Up to 500,000 people, a majority of them women, are believed to suffer from SAD - seasonal affective disorder. SAD is more common in the northern latitudes where the Sun is not seen for months together. SAD symptoms range from low spirits to severe depression, including sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, anxiety, loss of libido and mood swings.
SAD is yet to be fully understood, but is thought to be linked to a biochemical imbalance in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite, and sleep. It is believed to be caused by the shortening of daylight hours and lack of sunlight in winter.
Up to one in eight people in the UK are thought to experience a milder form of the condition, known as sub-syndromal SAD.
Exposure to bright light for between 1 to 4 hours daily is an effective treatment for SAD in almost 90 per cert of the cases.
Light is believed to trigger a change in chemical production within the brain, raising levels of the mood chemical serotonin, and slowing production of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for making people sleepy and animals hibernate. Only bright light has any beneficial effect.
The Dana Cafe Light Lounge contains four specially designed light boxes, each of which produces light over five times brighter than normal house lights. These light boxes are arranged around a comfortable circular sofa.
Kat Nilsson, Dana Centre programmes manager, said: 'We wanted to offer the SAD-affected the chance to test out one of the most popular solutions available.'