When to Use Light Therapy- A Definitive Answer

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Sunlight is essential to keep us alive, healthy, and happy. Exposure to sunlight helps to produce different vitamins and hormones like serotonin and melatonin. However, what if you don’t get enough sunlight exposure for your night shift duty or due to the season? 

Lack of sunlight exposure can distort your sleeping pattern and can even cause insomnia. However, to cure this issue, bright light therapy devices were introduced. These devices can aid you with depression, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), insomnia, dementia (to some extent), and also contribute to skincare. 

So, when to use light therapy and how you can benefit from this  is what you’ll know from this blog post. Therefore, read till the end to know it all. 

When to Use Light Therapy? 

Initially, light therapy devices were designed to aid patients with SAD and insomnia. However, as the technology got advanced, researchers got to know that it can be used to cure many other conditions like: 

  • Acute Depression
  • Jet Lag
  • Non-Seasonal Depression
  • Shift Work Adjustment
  • Senile Dementia 

Studies have shown that light therapy is also pretty effective in treating various kinds of sleep disorders like Alzheimer’s/ Dementia, Insomnia, and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder. However, researchers have confirmed that taking therapy in the morning time is the most effective compared to any other time of the day. In the morning, the effectiveness of this therapy is 53%, at noon it’s 32%, and in the evening it’s 38%. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The analysis for SAD showed that light therapy devices with intensity over 2,500 LUX for minimum use of around 2 hours each day for a week can show drastic improvement. Moreover, the studies even confirmed that the morning time is considered to be the best time for this therapy compared to the midday or evening. 

Light therapy is also pretty effective without even the consumption of antidepressant medications. However, it’s still recommended to consult with an expert especially if you are already on these antidepressants. 

Non-Seasonal Depression

Antidepressant medications take around 4 to 16 weeks to start showing improvements. However, in a research study of 27 patients, consistent use of this therapy for seven days (with no additional medications) showed a drastic improvement of 24%. 

The percentage increased to 50% when the intensity was increased to around 3,000 to 4,000 LUX. The final results shocked everyone when the improvements reached to 64.1% when this therapy was used in the morning for three weeks with 5,000 LUX.

Shift Work Adjustments

Shift work adjustments might be a challenge for many like nurses and truck drivers. The circadian rhythms depend a lot on having a regular sleep-wake cycle. However, there are many things that can go wrong when your sleep and wake times don’t match. This can lead to sleep issues, psychological breakdowns, and also low energy levels.

Bright light therapy can be one of the best solutions to restore the sleep back for shift workers. However, to cure this sleeping disorder, experts recommend taking light therapy just before bedtime. Consistent use of this therapy will allow you to restore back your sleep cycle. 

Jet Lag

When you travel to different time zones, it’s pretty common to get thrown off from your circadian rhythm. This might result in daytime sleepiness, poor sleep quality and duration, and also a lack of productivity. However, in a study, it has been found that consistent use of bright light therapy can prevent the issue of jet lag. 

The study discovered that light therapy can be effective at creating a delay or advance in the circadian rhythm which is known as “phase shift.” Getting exposed to light therapy for three days for around two hours would be enough to prevent jet lag. This is one of the best ways to trick the sleep cycle especially when you have to visit different time zones. 

Types of Light Therapy Devices Available

Here in this section, you’ll know the most common light therapy devices that you can get. However, it’s always recommended that you seek the advice of your physician before purchasing any of these devices. 

1. LightBox

A lightbox is one of the most common types of light therapy devices. They are usually small in size and take an upward angle. As these devices are pretty compact, it’s pretty much easier to carry. Moreover, these devices don’t use light down from an angle, You can also pretty easily move the device around. Although, such devices might not be an ideal choice for severe illness.  

2. Desk Lamps 

They look a lot like light boxes. The main difference is that these types of light therapy lamps shine down from an upper position and are pretty big in size. Moreover, this device is a doctor-recommended feature and is ideal for people who suffer from severe illnesses.

3. Light visor 

Light visors look like tennis visors and are also considered to be pretty convenient in many ways. However, these light therapy devices have attached LED lights attached under the visor. We’ll also recommend you speak with your doctor before taking this device. 

Bottom Line

Light therapy can help you in many ways especially with depression, SAD, skin issues, and insomnia. However, no matter how safe and effective these therapies might be, we’ll always recommend you seek the assistance of an expert physician before carrying out any of these therapies. 

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