First Choice, one of the UK's leading leisure travel companies, has released an infographic that sheds light on how the lack of sunshine during the winter months is affecting a large proportion of the population in northern countries.
The infographic shows that 7 per cent of the UK population is affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that materialises during the winter months when hours of daylight and levels of sunlight are at a minimum. A further 17 per cent are said to be affected by a milder form of the disorder called subsyndromal SAD, but more commonly known as winter blues.
First Choice commissioned the infographic after questioning whether the spike in holiday bookings it experiences annually in January could be put down to its customers longing to escape to sunnier climes and escape the near perpetual darkness of winter. First Choice pulled together data from knowledgeable sources such as the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, Mood Disorders Society of Canada, Bupa and SAD.org.uk to create the infographic.
First Choice's research revealed residents in northern countries saw little to absolutely no sunlight outside the regular working hours of 9am to 5pm between November and January. New Yorkers can look forward to just under two hours of daylight in December, while London workers have just over an hour before starting their work day and Helsinki nine-to-fivers see none at all.
Nathan Timmins, Head of Online Marketing for First Choice comments: "Our findings in this infographic draw attention to just how little exposure to sunlight most of us have at this time of year. When you consider that SAD and subsyndromal SAD affects 7 and 17 per cent of the UK population respectively, with a higher percentage in some other northern countries, it's really no surprise that we see so many people booking beach holidays during the darker months.
"Although winter weather can leave us all feeling a bit sluggish, SAD and subsyndromal SAD sufferers can feel crippled during the winter months. Sunlight is vital in enabling us to live happy, healthy lives and deal with everyday stresses, so topping up on your sunshine levels is important to ensuring your happiness not only in the winter months, but all year round."
Jonathan Cridland, CEO at light therapy specialist, Lumie, said: "Office workers especially can struggle to receive the sufficient levels of light required to keep their circadian rhythm in synch with their working day as they wake-up in the dark, commute in low light conditions and more often than not, opt to sit inside during their lunch break.
"If a colleague or employee is suffering from SAD, a winter holiday to somewhere bright can help immensely. Similarly if they want to prolong the holiday feeling on their return or just can't get away, medical research has also shown light therapy to be effective as it helps alleviate the symptoms of SAD and has also been shown lift mood, boost alertness and increase productivity, too."