DO THEY WORK OR ARE THEY ALL HYPE?
The winter months can be dreary for folks who live in northern regions. The days are shorter and the sky is often obscured by clouds. This bleak weather can lead to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Depression, moodiness, and lower energy typically affect people with SAD more during the fall and winter months. The disorder has several different causes, but a primary one is a lack of sunlight, which can have an impact on your body’s internal clock. The winter climate can also reduce your serotonin levels, which influence your mood. Low serotonin can bring about feelings of depression. To address this problem, manufacturers developed light therapy devices. Therapy lights, or “happy lights,” are bright lamps that can sit on your desk or end table. They simulate natural sunlight and are marketed as mood boosters that treat symptoms of SAD. But do these therapy lights actually work or are they just placebos?
For instance, some lights are marketed as having “5,000 lux” or “10,000 lux.” There is a big difference between the two. Normal daylight (not direct sunlight), has the equivalent of 10,000–25,000 lux. Direct sunlight can have anywhere from 30,000–100,000 lux. Average office lighting puts out less than 500 lux. In order to be effective, you need a lamp with at least 10,000 lux. After about 30–45 minutes of use, you should notice a boost in mood and energy. While therapy lights are safe and come with few side effects, they are not suited for extended use. Many lights come with a warning not to use them for more than an hour at a time. Using them for longer than an hour can cause eye strain, headaches, and irritability.
Therapy lights are not a cure-all. They can help, but they’re a short-term solution. If you feel the effects of SAD or experience depression, consult with a health professional to determine what solution is right for you.
The answer is both. There are a lot of therapy lights on the market, but they’re not all equally effective. The difference is their output. While most lights attempt to simulate sunlight, some devices have weaker output, which means your body and brain won’t respond the same way they do when in natural sunlight.
Ordering Coffee Just Got Easier How Starbucks Helps the Deaf Community
If you’ve ever visited a Starbucks coffee shop, you’ve likely heard a patron rattle off a drink order that was more specific than your grandma’s pecan pie recipe. For example, they might say, “I’ll take a Grande, four-pump, nonfat, no-whip, extra-hot mocha.” Without missing a beat, the barista scribbles the order on the cup and starts making the drink. Orders like this one are a mouthful for even the most seasoned Starbucks guru, but for deaf people, it can be difficult to even order a cup of black coffee. Adam Novsam, a deaf utility analyst at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, set out to address that difficulty by heading the launch of the company’s first deaf-friendly signing store. Operation The store’s grand opening took place in October in Washington, D.C. Its overall success relies primarily on its purposeful operation and design elements. In 2005, the ASL Deaf Studies Department at Gallaudet University created the DeafSpace Project using design elements, such as space and proximity, sensory reach, mobility, light, and acoustics, to address potential challenges for deaf people. Starbucks’ signing store incorporates these aspects of DeafSpace to make their store more accessible. For customers new to sign language, the store features some high-tech options for assisting with communication, ordering drinks, and receiving beverages at the handoff counter, including digital notepads
and a console with two-way keyboards for back-and-forth conversations.
Aprons All store partners at the signing store are proficient in ASL, whether they are hearing, hearing-impaired, or deaf. However, deaf partners wear special green aprons embroidered with the ASL spelling of Starbucks. What’s more, these aprons were created by a deaf supplier! Education For hearing customers who aren’t fluent in ASL — even those just ducking in to grab a cup of coffee to go — the signing store offers an opportunity to learn something new. For example, they can learn how to sign a word like “espresso” in ASL merely by reading the chalkboard above the register with the “sign of the week.” Starbucks’ decision to make their product more accessible has benefited thousands of customers all along the East Coast. Hopefully, as time goes on, other corporations will choose to follow suit so we can make a more deaf- friendly society.
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