You’re in Bora Bora—that’s what you want your body to believe when you’re lazing under a 10,000-lux, cool fluorescent light box, with eyes wide open, for a half-hour daily
. This therapy is commonly prescribed to people who suffer from full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Clinically, SAD affects about 6 percent of Americans—the majority of these are women in their 20s to 40s
—and many more of us suffer from the milder “winter blues.” For the sunshine-deprived, light boxes are available online for $200 or less.
But unlike sunlight, the light box doesn’t trigger your body to produce vitamin D, which regulates brain health
. As many as one in three of us have clinically low levels in the wintertime, and a deficiency may be related to depression. (People in Scandinavian countries eat a lot of vitamin-D-rich fish, which may explain why they have a lower rate of SAD despite the elusive arctic sun.) If you’re D-deficient and herring’s not to your taste, your doctor will likely recommend a supplement.