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It's time to lighten up; BRIGHTEN YOUR LIFE TO AVOID BLUE DAYS AND BLACK NIGHTS AS WINTER DRAWS IN.

Byline: Melanie Harvey

IF an extra hour in bed this weekend has you laughing into your pillow, think again.

Some health experts have argued Sunday's clock change is not the best way to protect the health of our nation.

Twice a year, the debate rages over turning the clocks forward in spring then back again in autumn.

Much of it centres on the safety of children travelling to and from school.

This time last year, the British Medical Journal claimed not putting the clocks back in October would increase daylight hours and encourage outdoor activity.

Many chronic illnesses are caused by a lack of physical activity and extending the hours activity. esses are physical ng the hours of daylight would lead to an increased opportunity for outdoor leisure activities and more exercise, said Dr Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute.

He said an extra hour of light in the evening would allow children to play outdoors for longer.

It doesn't matter how many times we turn the clocks forward and back and at what time of the year, before long many of us will be leaving the house in the dark and returning without seeing daylight.

But for some, that's easier said than done. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that affects an estimated seven per cent of the British population every winter.

If you are one of those affected, the clock change and the dark evenings will set off this often debilitating condition.

Key symptoms include: depression, sleep problems, lethargy, over-eating, loss of concentration, social problems, anxiety, loss of libido, waking up in the night and mood changes.

Those with chronic symptoms should seek advice from their GP or organisations such as The SAD Association (www.sada.org.uk).

For the rest of us, one of the simplest things you can try is light therapy. The SADA website states: "Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases. That is, exposure for up to four hours per day (average one to two hours) to very bright light, at least 10 times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting. Ordinary light bulbs and fittings are not strong enough.

"The minimum dose necessary to treat SAD is 2500 lux. The intensity of a bright summer day can be 100,000 lux."

Lightboxes are not available on the NHS but can be bought from specialist companies and SADA can help with suppliers.

Another tool is a wake-up light that gradually fills your bedroom with light in the morning before you get up.

They are available from electrical shops and online from about pounds 60.

Some simple diet changes could also help. Eating more foods with vitamin D, which the sun provides, is useful.

According to metabolic diet expert Hannah Sutter, who founded weightloss company Go Lower, a high-protein diet can help you shed pounds and help beat SAD symptoms.

She said: "A diet rich in eggs and oily fish can counteract the lack of vitamin D in the winter and ease SAD.

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"Eating less sugar also keeps your glycemic level (blood sugar) much steadier, which is important because trials have shown that this can prevent mood swings and depression."

Nuts and seeds are also helpful.

Most nuts contain selenium, which is thought to help prevent depression and be vital for good mental health.

Finally, try to get outdoors and keep JLight active, even if it is just for a 15-minute walk on your day off.

Look into organised exercise or dance classes in local halls.

If all else fails, invest in one of the many exercise DVDs on sale.

If you aren't fit enough for an organised activity, consider other social groups that will get you out of the house. Simply talking to people can be a great mood lifter.

Most importantly, don't hide from the fact you could suffer from SAD or even a milder case of the winter blues. Act now before the days turn into night.

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SAD TIMES A diet rich in foods such as oily fish and eggs can counteract the winter's lack of vitamin D BRIGHTEN UP Light therapy can banish blues
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 25, 2011
Words:702
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