Why Does Light Therapy Work?
You’ve read about bright light therapy, and have heard that it’s a natural way to treat some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But how can just sitting in front of a lamp every day produce physical results that work?
Since SAD is caused by a disruption to the brain as the result of decreased light, mimicking sunlight can help trick your brain into thinking it isn’t winter. Even though it may not seem like it, sunlight plays an important part in the proper function of the brain.
Circadian Rhythm, Melatonin, & Serotonin
Sitting in bright light – at least 10,000 lux – for 15-30 minutes daily during the winter months helps stimulate cells in the retinas that connect to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls circadian rhythm, the body’s 24 hour internal clock that regulates the natural sleep/wake cycle. If circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can cause an increase in daytime sleepiness, a tendency to oversleep, and an overall sluggishness during the day. Stimulating the hypothalamus at the same time every day can help restore natural circadian rhythms and decrease the symptoms of SAD.
Those with SAD often experience increased melatonin production, the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, due to increased darkness. Daily exposure to bright light helps regulate the body’s production of melatonin, allowing for a more even pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
Additionally, those suffering from SAD have been found to have higher levels of a transporter protein that takes serotonin from the space between the neurons in the brain back to the presynaptic neuron. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that assists in mood regulation, and irregularities in serotonin production has been linked to depression. Sunlight can help correct production of this transporter protein, alleviating depression symptoms.
Light Therapy Best Practices
Before beginning light therapy or any other sort of treatment for the symptoms of SAD, consult with a medical professional for a diagnosis. Your health care provider can best advise you on the best course of treatment for your condition and symptoms.
If light therapy has been advised, look for a light box that produces at least 10,000 lux, such as our SunLight Plus. Position the light at eye level to best mirror real sunlight. To get the maximum benefit; spend at least 15-30 minutes per day in front of the light box within the first two hours of waking up. Keep your eyes open and use the time to read, catch up on work, or enjoy your morning coffee.
Your Online Provider for Industry-Standard Light Boxes
At The SunBox Company, we specialize in the production and online distribution of bright light therapy boxes. We firmly believe in the power of light therapy during the winter months, and we are backed by science. Contact us today to see how our light therapy boxes can help you feel and perform better all winter long.Tags: bright light therapy, Light therapy, SAD treatment, seasonal affective disorder, winter depression treatment