I have worn my trusty SunSprite for more than a year now on most days except an occasional very dark day during which I had no time to use my light box. Now it’s time to evaluate what it did for me, although admittedly I have a bias.

It got me to pay attention to how much bright light I was getting in a systematic way. Before, I was aware that if it was a sunny day, I felt a little better but often I didn’t actually get myself outdoors to appreciate it. Now I make sure I get the short walk outdoors that I need to feel alert and awake. I also see the effect a string of dark days has one me, and I get out my (also trusty) light box, and set it up on the breakfast table. The light helps me to read the newspaper with less strain. But in addition, it gets my SunSprite registering that I have refused to let my sluggishness reign unfettered over my brain. I have taken a step to wake up and focus. It is a pleasure to add the light to my morning routine of OJ, coffee, granola and yogurt. The combination of a rise in my blood sugar, caffeine, bright light and news, gets me prepared for an alert day! By the time I can register my mood, it has improved!

On the days where the sun is up even if it’s a bit overcast, and there’s enough light to make my SunSprite flash (2500 lux at least), I get myself out walking even if its around the block a couple of times. The fresh air and light make me feel like I’m not a mole who lives in my office. Soon I am just a little more awake and able to sort out what the day will be like. Again, my mood is very different than when I first woke up. I feel empowered to cope with the usual unexpected events the day brings, and even a sense of pleasant expectation about whatever comes next!

So why is the SunSprite better than me just sitting in front of my light box for half an hour every day? Because I can’t sit still for half an hour in front of a light box at breakfast to save my soul. I get too antsy! So this way, I might sit there for 10 minutes during breakfast, and then walk to the mailbox to mail a letter. The combination helps me to deal with the early morning fog that would keep me from thinking clearly. And my SunSprite lets me know that I got my quota of bright light for the day during that first hour after waking when it’s best. It means that my melatonin is down, and my brain’s awake. And I got some exercise, so my muscles aren’t stiff anymore. I don’t have to feel bored with doing the same thing every day; I can mix it up depending on the weather an my mood. So I’m not bored before my day has even started!

I have gotten some feedback about the SunSprite. A typical remark from neighbors I meet on my walk is, “What’s that?” I explain what SunSprite is and that I only wear it during the first hour or two after waking when I’m getting my light. That usually intrigues them. “Why do you need to ‘get light’?” they ask. I explain that in olden times before we ‘got modern,’ people could count on waking to outdoor light in the morning, and going to sleep when the light was gone at night. Now we’re often up against the opposite. It’s dark when we get up, and we’ve got the lights blazing until we go to sleep. So our poor little minds are always a bit confused. Having a SunSprite can remind us of how we were meant to live!

I guess the other benefit that I am pleased with is that having my circadian rhythm in good order means that I get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and my weight stays unchanged because I’m not up late nibbling away on snacks. Research says that if we can eat 3 meals within the 12 hours after the time we start breakfast, we are much less likely to gradually gain weight over the year. So it is a small preventative act to prevent the type 2 diabetes that can stalk us if we gain some weight every year. In addition, a good night’s sleep in the dark can improve our focus the next day when we wake up. So dim light in the evening before sleep (and especially no blue light) can help the state of alert focus we’re seeking during the day.

So I have come to feel quite affectionate to my SunSprite. It might not be beautiful with all my outfits but it helps me to still fit in my clothes, and have a more ‘beautiful mind.’ More seriously, at least I feel awake and attentive to my day life!