Headphones to cure seasonal affective disorder, apparently

Phoebe McDowell | 02.12.2019

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‘Winter blues with this one’, reads the Instagram caption of @SADsufferer. Ah, the ubiquitous social media trope of repurposing literal and metaphorical blues to signal sadness, ironic or otherwise. But according to the NHS, one-in-15 of us do actually suffer with Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) particularly between the months of September to April.

Sound familiar? Allow us to introduce you to a new gadget from Finland, a country where daylight hours pale in comparison to London, which is supposed to ‘stimulate photosensitive receptors’. Yes, think of Valkee’s aptly and enticingly named The HumanCharger as a human Lumie light. It looks like a slender, old-school walkman with headphones, and acts by shining fibre optic UV-free blue-enriched white light into your ears. Its makers say it increases energy levels and boosts productivity. And by tampering positively with your circadian rhythm - that's your body's internal system that regulates everything from sleep to hunger - it can stave off jet lag and SAD. Essentially, it's geared towards increasing cognitive function, which is also a euphemism for, erm, coffee, and a £3.20 double shot latte is approximately £171.80 cheaper than the headphoned gadget in question.

Your ears will glow (the fact that they light up is the only perceptible part of using them) for up to 12 minutes a day (the recommended dosage), ideally 30 minutes after waking up. The idea that you can recharge your biological battery is an appealing one, but the substantive medical research jury is still out. As are ambivalent-at-best reviews. Don't bin your vitamin D just yet, blues kids. 

Valkee TheHumanCharger Europe, £175 

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