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First came oxygen bars - now the Science Museum’s Dana Centre creates a revolutionary new ‘light lounge’


The Science Museum’s Dana Centre has come up with a way to beat the winter blues with the creation of the Dana Centre ‘Light Lounge’.

Many people suffer from seasonal blues, although for some, winter can be a disabling time with the onset of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) - a term used to describe depression during darker months.

The Light Lounge will contain four specially designed lightboxes, which are used to treat SAD, and a circular sofa where visitors can relax and have light treatment in an ambient environment.

The lights raise light intensity levels and top up Serotonin levels, which are essential for warding off depression. They also slow the production of Melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us sleepy and animals hibernate.

The Light Lounge will be installed in the Dana Centre - the Science Museum’s bar and café renowned for showcasing innovative contemporary science - from Monday 9th until Friday 13th January and will be open from noon-8pm every day.

The Light Lounge has been created to coincide with a special event at the Dana Centre to debate the issues around winter depression - SAD: Lighten up your Life on Tuesday 10th January, held in partnership with The Times supplement, Body & Soul.

The event will also examine how northerly latitudes can change your body’s rhythms, leading to depression and how extra light can reset your hormones. Experts on the panel include Jennifer Eastwood, founder of the SAD Association, Professor Russell Foster Russell Foster, lecturer at Imperial College London and author of Rhythms of Life and Professor Anne Farmer, Institute of Psychiatry.

The debate will also ask whether light therapy is the most effective treatment for everybody. Cognitive therapy, anti depressants and herbal remedies are all potential alternative treatments for SAD.

“From mild blues to severe depression, SAD is thought to affect over half a million people in the UK,” said Kat Nilsson, Dana Centre Programmes Manager.

“SAD is believed to be due to the brain and body not getting enough light. To compensate, the body produces more Melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy at night. There’s also a reduction of Serotonin, the lack of which causes depression.

“We wanted to not only debate the issue but offer people who may be suffering from SAD the chance to test out one of the most popular treatments available.”

1 The Dana Centre is a collaboration between the Science Museum, the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) and The European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB) making it unrivalled in its expertise and depth of knowledge of scientific and technological fields. The Centre is housed in the Wellcome Wolfson Building alongside the headquarters of the BA, EDAB and Science Museum offices.

2 The £9.8 million building has been provided by four major benefactors – the Wellcome Trust, the Wolfson Foundation, The Dana Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

3 The Science Museum exists to promote the public understanding of the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology and industry. It aims to inspire, educate and involve visitors. It achieves this by building, researching and caring for the national collections; and by interpreting these collections and engaging the public in the contemporary issues they raise.

4 The BA is the UK’s nationwide, open membership organisation dedicated to connecting science with people, so that science and its applications become accessible to all. The BA aims to promote openness about science in society and to engage and inspire people directly with science and technology and their implications.

5 The goal of EDAB is to inform the general public and decision makers about the importance of brain research. EDAB aims to advance knowledge about the personal and public benefits of neuroscience and to disseminate information on the brain, in health and disease, in an accessible and relevant way.

6 Lights for the Light Lounge have been provided by the Sad Lightbox Company. Visit for more details

7 Nearest tube: Gloucester Road. There is no parking at the Dana Centre (except for disabled drivers). Residents’ parking restrictions apply until 10:00pm.

Lauren Gildersleve | alfa
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