As the nights draw in, we look at the rise in SAD treat­ments that recre­ate nat­u­ral sun­light in or­der to stim­u­late your senses.

What Lon­don lacks in sun­shine, it makes up for with its cul­ture. Now, thanks to sun rooms that pro­vide treat­ment for SAD suf­fer­ers by mim­ick­ing the sun’s rays, you can top up your vi­ta­min D, says Ko­hi­noor Sa­hota

Where London - - Contents -

Let’s be hon­est, Lon­don is not the

sun­ni­est place in the world. And with one in three peo­ple suf­fer­ing from SAD (sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der), which is also known as ‘win­ter de­pres­sion’, the last thing you want is for your trip to be a gloomy ex­pe­ri­ence.

SAD symp­toms start in the au­tumn and get more se­vere dur­ing De­cem­ber, Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary. The lack of sun­light stops a part of the brain (hy­po­thal­a­mus) from work­ing prop­erly, af­fect­ing the pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin and sero­tonin. This affects the body’s in­ter­nal clock, so if you are suf­fer­ing from jet­lag, the prob­lem be­comes more acute.

Due to the shorter days, you can be­come in­creas­ingly lethar­gic and find it harder to get up in the morn­ing. One of the best treat­ments is light ther­apy, where a light box is used to sim­u­late ex­po­sure to sun­light. In Scan­di­navia there are light cafés, and now light rooms are open­ing in Lon­don too. Re­search has shown that light ther­apy is more ef­fec­tive when the treat­ment takes place in the morn­ing.

K West Spa, near Shep­herd’s Bush, has cre­ated a Sun Meadow Treat­ment Room, which mim­ics nat­u­ral day­light. De-stress­ing beams of light are dis­pensed from the ceil­ing. The low-in­ten­sity ul­tra­vi­o­let light safely stim­u­lates the skin’s melanin lev­els, en­cour­ag­ing the pro­duc­tion of vi­ta­min D and re­leas­ing sero­tonin. The lights help those suf­fer­ing from eczema, pso­ri­a­sis and arthri­tis. Plus, the sunken bed makes this a sleep-in­duc­ing space.

While you are at the spa, you can also make use of its other fa­cil­i­ties: Jacuzzi, steam rooms and, most im­pres­sively, the Snow Par­adise room where the tem­per­a­ture is -15 de­grees Cel­sius. Al­ter­nate be­tween the steam and ice to help stim­u­late cir­cu­la­tion.

Ajala Spa, which spe­cialises in Ori­en­tal and Hawai­ian tech­niques, has branches across the City. The branch near St Paul’s Cathe­dral stands out, how­ever, as it has a Zen Sun Ther­apy Lounge. The lounge safely repli­cates nat­u­ral sun­light us­ing in­fra-red heat, so there is no risk of skin dam­age from UV rays. There are dif­fer­ent set­tings in the spa for the sun room, mim­ick­ing dif­fer­ent places around the world – Mi­ami at mid­day or Bali at sun­set?

The room can be booked for half an hour or one hour, and has proved pop­u­lar with nearby City work­ers. Look out for of­fers that com­bine use of the room with a mas­sage. Here def­i­nitely comes the sun... K West Spa, Rich­mond Way, W14 0AX. T: 020-8008 6600. Ajala Spa St Paul’s, 10 Godli­man St, EC4V 5AJ. T: 020-7074 1030.

Clock­wise from top left: K West Spa treat­ment room; K West Spa Sun Meadow room; re­lax in one of the spa’s cab­ins In­set: K West Wet Spa

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