It is possible that your emotions may vary depending on the weather.
Bright, sunny days can make you feel happier. A day when the sun is not visible, and there is a lot of darkness, could lead to one feeling unhappy or despondent.
Light has a major impact on our sleep cycles and our emotional state.
Bright light therapy endeavors to replicate the positive impacts of sunshine on our wellbeing, which can hold several potential wellness gains.
What Is Bright Light Therapy?
Bright light therapy is utilized as a means of managing particular emotional disturbance(s) and sleeping difficulty(s), as well as some skin concerns.
The person undergoing bright light exposure therapy will sit close to a device emitting light for a designated period of time every day.
This treatment utilizes light that is as bright as natural sunlight, distinguishing it from regular fluorescent lighting.
Bright light therapy seeks to imitate the sunshine, which can influence the biological clock and may lead to improvements in ailments that are caused by a deficit of daylight. This includes a type of depressive disorder which is commonly referred to as “seasonal depression” or “SAD” (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
How Light Therapy Works
Light therapy is easy to use. A light therapy box or lamp is all that is required; just plug it in, switch it on, and position yourself near enough so you can get the benefits of the light for a given period. Machines built for this purpose usually have fluorescent bulbs set in a metallic backing and a plastic covering on top to soften the light and keep out dangerous ultraviolet rays.
It is essential to be exposed to 10,000 lux for the correct time span, achievable with today’s higher quality light boxes providing 30 minutes of exposure. It is suggested that you do not stare at the item for the entirety of the meeting, as it could be harmful to your vision. The goal is for your eyes to take in the light without looking directly at it. Usually, it’s best to be in a range of between one and a half and two feet from the lightbox to gain the most advantages.
The machines create a brilliant illumination which mimics the rays of the sun, helping to increase amounts of melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D, as well as producing other impacts. It is essential to abide by the manufacturer’s instructions regarding how far away the light source should be placed to achieve the correct amount of light in half an hour. Some manufacturers suggest a distance of between 6-12 inches; if the person is 24 inches away, it would thus require an hour instead of the recommended measurement. If you are experiencing SAD, you should begin treatment in the early fall and keep it up throughout the winter. You should take a break from treatment during the late spring and summer.
It is uncertain exactly how or why light therapy operates. However investigations demonstrate that this treatment is capable of offering alleviation from indications for numerous people.
It is believed that the illumination given off by a lightbox can activate the manufacture of the neurotransmitter serotonin, similar to what happens with natural light. Serotonin, referred to as the “feel-good” hormone, is incredibly significant in keeping one’s mind and body in proper working order. It influences one’s feeling, emotions, movement abilities, and slumber.
Light affects the production of melatonin and can be utilized to alter one’s circadian rhythm of the hormone. Additionally, when directly exposed, melatonin creation is prevented. This is why the procedure is also useful for relieving sleep problems, as it works to stabilize the pattern of sleeping and being awake.
Employing a lightbox in the morning can be a reminder to the body that it is daytime, activating the body’s internal clock. Light treatment is likewise used to address jet lag to help people become accustomed to a different time zone.
It was stated previously that light therapy could be employed to tackle different mental health problems and is commonly the primary treatment option suggested to those struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Medication can be an effective treatment for mild symptoms on its own, but it is even better when combined with talk therapy, changes in behavior, modifications in lifestyle (for example, exercising and having good sleep hygiene) and the use of anti-depressants.
In addition to seasonal affective disorder, other uses for light therapy include treating the following issues:
- A variety of sleep disorders
- Adjusting to a night shift work schedule
- Jet lag
- Non-seasonal depression
Light therapy may be employed to treat a number of different skin ailments, including psoriasis. Despite the intention of these lamps to produce ultraviolet light, mental health therapy equipment is constructed to stop UV rays due to the risk of skin and eye damage with too much exposure.
6 Benefits of Bright Light Therapy
1) It can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression.
The manifestations of Seasonal Depression typically take place during the months of the year with limited amounts of sunlight.
In the Northern Hemisphere, this usually takes place during the autumn to the winter period.
Studies conducted in the early 1980s have revealed that exposure to intense illumination may be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression.
Although research has been conducted regarding the disorder, the fundamental origin of Seasonal Affective Disorder is still not known.
It is believed that because of the lack of morning sunlight, the brain will produce larger quantities of melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleep.
People who are vulnerable to seasonal affective disorder may have their depression triggered by the release of melatonin.
Studies have indicated that simply being exposed to bright light for 20 minutes can result in a betterment of depression scores, with the most helpful results being seen after 40 minutes exposure.
Bright light therapy may be effective in treating depression as it can alter serotonin production in the human body. Serotonin is a hormone linked to mood and can have a positive effect on a person’s happiness.
Exposure to intense light can inhibit melatonin production, which leads to an increase in alertness.
2) It might help reset your circadian rhythm.
It is common for medical professionals to suggest that someone with a disorder involving the sleep/wake cycle try light treatment.
Individuals with circadian cycle maladies can experience difficulty dozing off, persistently remain conscious, or could get up too ahead of schedule toward the beginning of the day.
Those who prefer to stay awake and rise later than is typical are known as having a “phase delay.”
For those who fit this description, it would be most beneficial to incorporate light therapy in the early part of the day.
Individuals who become fatigued far sooner than usual are referred to as “phase advanced.”
Bright light therapy might be most effective if done in the afternoon or evening.
If you have worked the night shift for an extended time, it is likely that your regular sleep pattern has been disrupted.
Employing light exposure can be beneficial when changing from night-time duty to daytime shifts.
3) It might be helpful for those suffering from dementia.
Persons suffering from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, commonly experience insomnia or other sleeping issues.
It is thought that those who have dementia tend to stay awake for nearly half of the night, and sleep for majority of the daylight hours.
Individuals who have difficulty sleeping at night are more likely to show signs of restlessness.
Due to the lack of Personal connections, people who are socially isolated are more probable to experience depression.
Light therapy has the potential to provide many benefits for those with dementia, such as reducing symptoms of depression and aiding with sleep disorders, and should therefore be taken into consideration as a possible treatment option.
4) Bright light therapy might help improve symptoms of anxiety.
It is conceivable that anxiety could arise from an irregularity in serotonin levels, much as with depression.
A research project showed that exposure to strong light had an expansive outcome in alleviating anxiousness and despair.
A separate research discovered a moderate amelioration in signs of anxiety.
More investigation is necessary into the effects of bright light therapy on anxiety.
Studies indicate that this could possibly be a beneficial alternative form of treatment.
5) Light therapy might benefit adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Changes to a person’s sleep patterns, daily activity, and the impact of seasonal shifts can have a negative effect on individuals who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Investigation suggests that using early morning light can help reduce the signs of ADHD in grown-ups.
6) Using bright light lamps is convenient.
Light therapy lamps have evolved significantly over the past two decades due to improvements in design and features.
There are several options in terms of size, luminosity, and style so that you can find the ideal fit for your individual tastes and lifestyle.
If you plan to utilize your light therapy box in the workplace, you can acquire a version that is intended to be utilized on top of a desk.
If you go on trips frequently, it might be beneficial to purchase a container that is made for traveling to make your journey easier.
Although usually secure, there are some chances of harm that ought to be thought about when considering bright light therapy.
Using a light therapy lamp that produces UV radiation, similar to being outdoors in the sun, can be hazardous to the skin and eyes if you are treating psoriasis.
A research survey revealed that the principal drawbacks of bright light therapy were feelings of nervousness, queasiness, and head pain.
This study highlighted that the main effect of bright light therapy was to alleviate symptoms.
So you should consider the benefit/risk ratio.
It should also be noted that the Food and Drug Administration does not oversee the regulation of a light therapy lamp or box.
No scientific evidence supports what is said by these products.
Is It Right for You?
If you are affected by seasonal affective disorder, a different sort of depression, or sleep problems, light therapy is possibly a suitable option for you, either with additional treatment or on its own.
Discuss with your physician or mental health provider the potential advantages of incorporating a lightbox into your existing treatments. Think about if you will have the capacity and/or inclination to make light treatment meetings part of your standard everyday practice.
It is crucial to talk to your doctor before beginning light therapy if you suffer from bipolar disorder, as this kind of procedure could result in a manic episode. Research has indicated that utilizing light therapy can be a successful treatment for individuals with bipolar disorder. Nevertheless, further research is necessary to find out the exact most effective combination of session duration, amount of times it is administered and amount of light intensity.7
One should monitor the effect of light therapy on their emotional wellbeing and seek advice from a medical professional with any worries or queries.
Types of Light Therapy Devices
A counselor or doctor can suggest the type of lightbox or lamp to use, or you can decide and purchase it yourself. Many types of light therapy boxes and lamps are available to choose from.
It may be safe to experiment with this treatment if you have minimal evidence of the condition, though it is recommended to seek advice from your doctor beforehand. Additionally, as the device is so straightforward to use and there are no major downsides or risks, it can be worth a try.
Try to receive an exact directive from your doctor or mental health professional concerning the type of lightbox that you should utilize, as well as the brightness of the light and how far away you should be when you use it, in order to provide the safest and most successful form of therapy. They may be able to offer suggestions of certain brands or types that they have had familiarity with.
Lightboxes can vary in size, form, and potency. You can pick a design similar to that of a desk lamp, a freestanding tablet, a sphere, or any of the other available choices. Different varieties of the item exist, so you can pick one that suits your preference, ranging from having a clinical or practical appearance to resembling artistic creations.
The brightness of your lightbox can differ based on the manufacturer, however it is suggested that those with SAD should use a lightbox that has a luminosity of 10,000 lux. Lux is a system for figuring out how many lumens (light) is produced for each square meter. This means that the lux value is the amount of light emitted from the source and hitting a square meter surface that is one meter away.
As a comparison, the illumination provided by natural light typically lies between 10,000 and 25,000 lux, while the brightness of direct sunlight can range from 32,000 to 100,000 lux. On cloudy days, the amount of light is around 1,000 lux. Indoor locations with a lot of lighting, such as in a hospital, generally have a brightness level of around 1,000 lux, but houses usually have a light intensity of about 150 lux.
If the lux intensity of the device is less than 10,000, you may need to lengthen your daily exposure in order to obtain the same results.
Using a lamp or box that has had UV light filtered out of it, bright light therapy involves sitting near the light source for a period of time every day.
Light therapy affects the amount of serotonin and melatonin produced, which directly contributes to the alleviation of seasonal depression and other health issues.
The possible advantages of treatment with intense illumination could result in better state of mind and healthy sleep patterns.
People dealing with skin problems like psoriasis utilize a therapy enclosure that dispenses UV beams of light for bright light treatment.
Using the device for an extensive amount of time can cause harm to the eyes and skin.
Bright light therapy treatment is generally safe. However, there are certain possible adverse reactions, for instance, queasiness, migraines, and restlessness.