Light up your winter days in Devon and Torbay librariesPosted on 09 Nov 2022
Natural sunlight lamps will give customers to libraries in Devon and Torbay a welcome boost this winter.
The new lamps will be positioned near library seating in each of the 54 libraries run by the charity Libraries Unlimited. They emit UV-free natural sunlight which does not damage eyes or skin but could boost mood and alleviate physical symptoms including tiredness.
Colin Bray, Service Development Manager with Libraries Unlimited, said: “As the days grow darker and colder, many of us experience the winter blues. Some of us experience a more severe form of the blues called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with symptoms such as sluggishness, hopelessness, fatigue and loss of appetite.
“Research since the 1980s has shown how exposure to sunlight affects circadian rhythms and in turn regulating hormones or neurotransmitters in the brain such as melatonin and serotonin. In the UK winter when we have less sunlight, it can adversely affect our physical and mental health. Some people really struggle.”
Research has suggested exposure to light identical to sunlight from a light box can be helpful in addressing SAD. They may help people recalibrate their body clocks and relieve symptoms of SAD. In Sweden some bus stops are now lit with wellbeing lamps during the winter months.
Colin Bray added: “The lights are just a small part of our much wider winter offering this year. We know as warm welcoming spaces with free WiFi, computers and numerous free groups and events, libraries are already an important home from home for many people. This year we’re giving them a boost with the introduction of new community fridges, community coat rails, baby weighing facilities alongside our Bounce & Rhyme groups, and Work Clubs for those looking for a new job. We’ve got the home library service for those who can’t get to our libraries, a selection of Reading Well titles to help with physical and mental health, and free drop-in IT sessions for those that need a hand getting online. Overall we really hope there’s something for everyone.”
Devon County Council supported the purchase of the lamps. Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality said: “I am pleased that we have been to be able to offer this service and no cost to residents. Libraries are the centre of our communities and as they played a vital role by bringing people together during the pandemic they are doing so once again during the cost of living crises by providing a safe haven.”
“They are offering those who need it, safe warm space to take refuge and a number of other useful services and these UV lamps are part of that.”
More from the NHS on SAD and light therapy here: nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/treatment/