Let the sunshine in

Light therapy lamps in the library help fight the winter blahs.

Jennifer Wagner
February 7, 2020
Light therapy lamps are a new addition to the Class of 1945 Library.

Light therapy lamps are a new addition to the Class of 1945 Library. 

There are some bright new fixtures in the Academy Library — and they provide much more than ample illumination for reading.

Five desktop light-therapy lamps installed in the Library’s second floor Lawrence Listening Room help students suffering from the effects of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a pattern of depression common in late fall and winter when sunshine is at a minimum.

Light therapy is the latest addition to a concerted student wellness campaign promoted across campus by the Counseling and Psychological Services department that is aimed at reaching students wherever they may be. Along with exercise, healthy eating and rest, the CAPS team explains in an informational brochure, exposure to bright light can be an effective treatment for some of SAD’s most common symptoms: sadness, irritability and anxiety.

“This is our first academic year launching the stations,” CAPS Director Szu-Hui Lee says. “Kids are using them and having positive reactions.”

During light-therapy sessions, students sit a foot or so from the light box for up to 60 minutes a day. The box is outfitted with a collection of fluorescent or LED strips that give off 10,000 lumens of artificial light and emit a full spectrum of light wavelengths. Like natural sunrays, the lamp’s light helps the body synthesize vitamin D. A plastic screen cover blocks potentially harmful ultraviolet rays.

Introduction of the light-therapy lamps came thanks to support from The Peter Freeman Lawrence Listening Room Fund, established in 1981 to endow the Lawrence Listening Room. Cozy new chairs, pleasing artwork and desks, custom-built by PEA carpenters using reclaimed wood, were also added this winter to enhance the overall experience students have when appreciating the Listening Room’s vast collection of music.

“It’s a nice calming space for [students] to hang out and do their work,” Lee says. “It is a wonderful resource and it also expands our reach from the Health Center.”

Light-therapy stations can be reserved in advance by calling the Lamont Health and Wellness Center.