Combating S.A.D. in the dorms

Each of the dormitories on base currently have one light, MSG leadership plan to procure more lights in the future to improve quality of life for dorm Airmen and base residents.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Madison Kopp, 52nd Maintenance Squadron armament maintenance technician, reads while using the Bright Light Therapy boxes at Dormitory 226 at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Jan. 26, 2018. To help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Mission Support Group purchased Bright Light Therapy boxes for each of the dorms on base to help combat the effects of S.A.D. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

Each of the dormitories on base currently have one light, MSG leadership plan to procure more lights in the future to improve quality of life for dorm Airmen and base residents.

U.S. Air Force Col. Steven Zubowicz, 52nd Mission Support Group commander, tests out a Bright Light Therapy box during a tour of the dormitories at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Jan. 26, 2018. Each of the dormitories on base currently have one light, MSG leadership plan to procure more lights in the future to improve quality of life for dorm Airmen and base residents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dawn M. Weber)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --

With the long, dark, and cloudy winters in the Eifel region, many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., a type of depression associated with decreased exposure to sunlight.

To combat this the Mission Support Group purchased light therapy boxes for the Airmen dormitories here on base as part of the Bright Light therapy initiative.

“We understand the struggles that winters in the Eifel bring,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Brembah, 52nd Mission Support Group superintendent. “In our last Community Action Board, Wing Leadership and Wing Agencies discussed some of the effects Seasonal Affective Disorder may be linked to such as increased alcohol consumption, seasonal depression, sleep disorders and suicidal ideations. We’re hoping these light therapy boxes will aid in prevention to avoid trends in these areas."  

 

People suffering from S.A.D. may feel irritable, have low energy, sleep more than usual, have trouble concentrating, and may lose interest in activities. These bright light therapy boxes emit high intensity light similar to the sun’s natural rays. They are theorized to improve mood by normalizing the secretion of melatonin in the brain and regulating serotonin levels.

Currently, there is one light supplied to each of the dormitories on base. According to the Airmen Dorm Leaders, the response to the light therapy boxes have been overwhelming positive.

According to Master Sgt. Harry Friend, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron housing superintendent, with such a positive response to the lights the MSG is looking into the future to procuring more lights for dorm Airmen as well base residents to better accommodate living conditions. Light therapy boxes are also available for use at the PowerHaus gym.

“I have noticed a significant improvement in my mood after I use the happy lights, especially after an extremely stressful day at work,” said Senior Airman Eden Stoian, 52nd Maintenance Squadron precision guided missiles crew chief. “I like to use them while reading or studying; they help me stay focused. I also like to use them first thing in the morning; the happy lights make me feel more energetic.”