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Medical News & Perspectives |

Dawn's Early Light to Twilight's Last Gleaming...

Lynne Lamberg
JAMA. 1998;280(18):1556-1558. doi:10.1001/jama.280.18.1556-JMN1111-3-1.
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AT 8 AM, sun worshippers already lay prostrate on the shimmering oceanside beach at Amelia Island, Fla. In a dark, windowless room nearby, present-day priests at the temple of the sun, members of the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms (SLTBR), convened for rites of their own: a review of advances in their field.

Timed exposure to daylight-intensity light has become the treatment of choice for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to Anna Wirz-Justice, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Basel in Switzerland. "Light is as effective as antidepressant medications are, perhaps more so," said Wirz-Justice, who cochaired a roundtable session at the SLTBR's annual meeting, held in conjunction with the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) in May.

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The Cafe Engel, in Helsinki, Finland, serves bright light with breakfast from October through March. Popular menu selections include Danish pastry, or traditional English, continental, or French breakfasts for about US$7. A cup of coffee costs about US$2. Use of one of the cafe's eight light boxes is free. (Photo credit: Markku Partinen)

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A dawn-simulating alarm clock wakes travelers gently in the Hilton Hotel chain's "Sleep-Tight" rooms—available at present in fewer than a dozen hotels. (Photo credit: Lynne Lamberg)

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Basel's soccer team, the Fussball Club Basel, put light boxes in its locker room in hopes of improving player performance. No effect was apparent. (Photo credit: Anna Wirz-Justice, PhD)

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