I came across the word when I took an impromptu holiday to Copenhagen in October last year. Perhaps not the best time to visit the beautiful Danish capital due to colder-than-average winds, dark clouds and constant drizzles, but it was on my walking tour through the city that I learnt about the Scandinavian desire create a certain atmosphere in their homes to battle the winter blues.
Creating special, charming, cosy moments, be it alone or in a group, hygge means and emphasises the need to create intimacy and warmth during long, dreary winter months. It can be found in the warm glow of a candle, in a cosy cup of coffee, or even in the satisfaction of sharing a meal with close friends.
Is this Nordic nomenclature the solution to feeling SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately shortened to just its acronym) is a winter depression, where a persistent low mood, lethargy and an overwhelming desire to hibernate is the norm. Without getting into the nitty-gritty scientific details, the lack of sunlight during long winter evenings can affect hormone levels, changing mood patterns and the intense need to sleep for the worse.
We’ve all heard of insomnia, but what about hypersomnia?
It’s quite simply the opposite, and it impairs the body’s internal clock to heighten our primitive instinct to take asylum from the winter in slumber. And while depression of any kind ought to be dealt with in the appropriate medical fashion, it’s important to remember that there are solutions!
Light therapy has always been recommended to battle the effects of of SAD, and what better way to do that than through the use of SAD lamps. Approved by the UK National SAD Organisation, lamps that emit blue and white light replicate sunshine and encourage the production of serotonin to improve mood, and reduce melatonin levels to negate sleep. To maintain healthy sleeping patterns, Dawn Simulators can be used to regulate waking and sleeping hours, as light is manufactured to mimic summertime sunrise and sunsets.
And if you really want to take it to the next level, Himalayan Salt Lamps are there to calm the ambiance. Despite mixed scientific reviews, these lamps supposedly produce negative ions which enhance air and sleep quality; even if you think otherwise, it’ll certainly look beautiful with a warm glow in the corner of any bedroom.
Perhaps the Danes have got it right all this time. Being cosy with some light is really the trick to battling the long winter madness. Cosy-up with some friends, a warm beverage in hand and plenty of light, and you’ve cracked the wintertime blues.
Don’t be SAD. Have some hygge.