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Light-therapy bus shelters set to cheer up Swedes in winter

If you live in the north, like far north, summers are like one long day. With the big ball of fire never dropping behind the horizon, getting shut-eye involves donning an eye mask or getting some seriously thick curtains to block out the light. Winter, on the other hand, is another matter.

With the sun disappearing off on vacation to, well, warmer climes, many people living in places like Umea in northern Sweden are left to deal with weeks of hardly any sunshine, a situation which in some cases can bring on the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a kind of depression most commonly associated with the dark winter months.

With this in mind, Umea’s energy company has decided to offer some light therapy to the town’s citizens, installing energy-boosting ultra-violet lights in some 30 bus stops about the town.

“This is so people can get a little energy kick as they are waiting,” Umea Energi’s marketing chief Anna Norrgard said. “You feel tired during this time of the year, and getting an extra dose of light feels refreshing.”

Commuters will be able to bask in the UV light while waiting for their ride to work. The energy company has replaced the illuminated ad boards with the energy-boosting lights, while several bus stops have also been fitted with overhead UV-light panels.

And no, commuters won’t be turning up to work looking like they’ve just returned from a vacation to a sun-soaked Pacific island – Norrgard said the tan-causing UV radiation has been filtered out.

The lights will be in place for the next three weeks, a time when – for Umea folks – the sun hardly makes it into the sky. In December it appears low on the horizon at around 10am, before slipping away again just after lunch at 2.30pm.

[Via AFP and Reuters] [Image: Umea Energi]