Light therapy, also referred to as bright light therapy or phototherapy, can make a positive impact on the quality of life for those who struggle with low moods or have trouble sleeping. It's believed to have an effect on the brain chemicals linked to regulating your mood and sleep patterns.
During the winter and fall months, it's natural to feel a little down. Shorter days mean less sunlight, which may cause you to experience feelings of lethargy, sadness, or fatigue. A light box adjusts for the lower levels of light you're exposed to by mimicking the sun and giving off the bright light your body craves.
During a light therapy session, you sit in front of a device called a light therapy box for a set period of time each day. Here, we'll explain how to use a light box to improve your mood and encourage healthier sleeping habits.
What Is a Light Box?
Before diving into how to use a light box, you need to understand what is a light box. A light box, also known as a light therapy lamp, is a device that produces a soft and steady light. The most common lamps will stand independently, but with the advent of new technology, the therapy can even be integrated into eyeglasses.
These lamps generate a standard wavelength and light, which may be full-spectrum, meaning it appears white but may also generate blue light. Blue light is known to have a negative effect on the circadian rhythm, which may impact your sleeping pattern.
Normally, the light from these lamps should have an intensity of about 10,000 LUX and come with different brightness settings; however, light therapy glasses tend to have a lower light intensity. This is because the light from the glasses is directly delivered to the eyes, whereas the light from boxes is diffused in the room.
How to Use a Light Box to Improve Sleep and Moods
First, you need to find a light box that works best for you. Although you may not require a prescription to buy light therapy devices, you should ask your doctor or healthcare provider before getting one. Then, familiarize yourself with the options available in the market to ensure you buy one that's both effective and safe.
Once you have a light therapy box, you can start the sessions. During light therapy sessions, you should sit near the light box. To achieve the best results, ensure the light is entering your eyes indirectly. You should also avoid exposing your skin to the light. It's important not to look directly at the lamp, because the light can be harmful to the eyes and may lead to eye problems.
You can set the lamp on a bedside table, a desk in your office, or somewhere else you visit daily to build a habit of using it regularly. Light therapy requires consistency over time. Be consistent with your therapy schedule, but don't overdo it. Ensure you're following the manufacturer's directions and the doctor's recommendations at all times.
Things to Consider When Using Light therapy Boxes
Light box therapy will give the best results if you consider these four things:
- Intensity - This is the amount of light emitted by the box and is measured in LUX. For mood-related conditions, including fall and winter depression, the lamp should have an intensity of approximately 10,000 LUX.
- Distance - If you're using a 10,000 LUX box, it should be about 41 to 61 centimeters away from your eyes to avoid eye damage.
- Duration - Using a 10,000 LUX box, light therapy daily sessions should have a duration of about 20 to 30 minutes. If you're using a lower intensity box, you may need longer sessions. It is recommended to start with shorter sessions, then gradually increase as needed. Always check the guidelines by the manufacturer.
- Timing - The timing of when you do the therapy sessions is also important. For most users, it proves most effective when done in the morning, first thing after you wake up. However, this may vary from one user to another. Ask your doctor or physician for recommendations to help you determine a schedule that works for you.
Using Light Lamp for Mood Changes
For some people, seasonal changes may significantly affect their mood. During winter, there is less natural light, which means you may be starting the day before sunrise. This may cause mood changes or trigger symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Light therapy lamps may help reduce the symptoms of mood disorders brought on by seasonal changes. It's typically best to get exposure to bright light in the morning to maintain and reset your biological clock. Without doing so, you may experience prolonged sleepiness during the morning hours and throughout the day.
Sleep Improvement with Light Therapy
Disruption of sleep patterns is another problem that might be caused when the biological clock is misaligned. The sleep-wake cycle is what encourages alertness during the day and tiredness at night. A person may experience insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day) if this cycle is disrupted.
A light therapy lamp may also be used to improve the symptoms of other physiological disorders, like jet lag. However, the timing may vary, with some who may require several sessions over the course of the day while others may only need one session in the morning. You should always consult a physician for accurate health information and treatment options.
Some light therapy devices may also come with an app that provides support and helpful information on how to use it and achieve the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) on Light Box Therapy
1. Do Seasonal Affective Disorder light boxes really work?
Yes. However, you should note that these lamps won't cure Seasonal Affective Disorder or other disorders. They can merely reduce the symptoms caused by these disorders, increase your energy, and help you feel better.
2. Which is the best Light Box Therapy?
The best light box is the Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp. It features an easy-to-use, one-touch operation system, three brightness levels, and emits the recommended 10,000 LUX brightness.
3. How long does it take for light therapy to work?
Most people may start to notice an improvement within the first five days or the second week of use. However, this may vary from one user to another. You may also experience some side effects, including eye strain, nausea, or headaches. If you don't see any changes within the first few weeks, seek advice from your healthcare provider.
1. Light Box Therapy: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-light-box-therapy-3015255
2. Light Therapy: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/light-therapy/about/pac-20384604
3. Light Therapy for Insomnia Sufferers: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/light-therapy