Understanding Light Therapy: What It Is and Its Health Benefits

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21/06/2024
Understanding Light Therapy: What It Is and Its Health Benefits

by Eric Delloye — Posted in Luminette

Learn about light therapy, its mechanisms, types, benefits for sleep, mood, and energy, and how to choose the right device to improve your well-being.

Light therapy involves exposing individuals to an artificial light source. It helps compensate for people's limited exposure to sunlight. Modern light therapy devices can also emit other colours, such as blue, purple, and red, which offer different bodily benefits.

Light therapy increases alertness and contributes to consistent and stable sleeping patterns. It aligns your brain’s biological rhythm, helping balance serotonin activity and enhancing your mood.

In this post, we’ll discuss how it works, its uses, and the types of light therapy treatments and devices available to help you determine if it’s right for you.


How does light therapy work?

Light therapy helps you enjoy the benefits of sunlight without going outdoors. The type of light emitted from a light therapy device mimics natural sunlight, which can cause a chemical change in your brain to help lift your mood, increase your energy, and balance your sleeping pattern.

During light therapy, you are exposed to a specific amount of light, measured in lux, based on the recommended exposure for therapeutic effects. Typically, the light intensity ranges from 2,500 to 10,000 lux. The duration and intensity of exposure can vary depending on individual needs.

Some people require limited exposure because they may have certain medical conditions or take medications, such as antipsychotics or antibiotics, that increase their sensitivity to light. 

It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before starting light therapy, especially if you have any health concerns or are taking medications.

Children and Adolescents:

Sleep requirements for children and adolescents vary as they grow and their daily activities change. Preschoolers (3-5 years) generally need 10 to 13 hours of sleep, while school-aged children (6-13 years) require around 9 to 11 hours. Adequate sleep during these stages is essential for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation. However, factors such as increased academic demands, extracurricular activities, and electronic device usage can negatively impact sleep duration and quality. Encouraging consistent sleep schedules, limiting screen time before bed, and creating a relaxing sleep environment can help children and adolescents establish healthy sleep habits for optimal growth and development.

What is light therapy used for?

Light therapy is mainly used to help generate and regulate the body’s most important hormones: melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps you sleep, while serotonin makes you feel awake and energetic during the day.

It also helps address  skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis .


What are the types of light therapy?

There are multiple types of light therapy, each targeting a specific medical condition. Let's discuss the most popular types.

Bright light therapy

Bright light therapy is the most popular type of light therapy. It involves using an artificial light source to help delay your biological clock, which can help shift your sleeping patterns from abnormal to normal.

The timing of bright light therapy is critical to helping you achieve your desired effect. Sleep specialists use it on people with delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) to shift their sleep period to an earlier time.

Here are some of the different colours used in bright light therapy:

Blue light therapy

Blue light therapy uses blue wave technology to shift and regulate biological rhythms and suppress melatonin levels. It is superior to most kinds of light therapy but can also be an actual liability.

Prolonged exposure to blue light can interfere with sleep and is linked to several health conditions, including  obesity .

Red light therapy

The colour red is known for making  human reactions faster and more forceful . Red light therapy devices are ideal for re-energising someone who may be feeling low by boosting their metabolism and uplifting their mood. 

Red light therapy, also called soft laser therapy, helps you relax and sleep by  stimulating the body’s ability to produce melatonin . When combined with ambient white light, your body clock improves, making you more alert, especially in the afternoon when most people feel tired.

Purple light therapy

Purple light therapy combines red and blue light, offering the best of both. It stimulates the eyes and nervous system, helping to relax the mind and reduce anxiety.

Purple is highly effective in bright light therapy as it promotes creativity, inspiration, and tranquillity. It inspires creativity and motivates you to accomplish your creative goals.

Purple has magical qualities and cannot be associated with primary natural elements. It helps quiet racing thoughts by putting the mind in a more contemplative state.

Dawn simulation

Dawn simulation therapy involves imitating the natural rising of the sun to simulate a naturalistic dawn. It is pretty effective since morning light signals are more powerful than any other light signal during the day.

The devices used can be separate alarm clocks that gradually illuminate your environment before you wake up. The instant exposure to high-intensity light causes a temporary cessation in melatonin production, making it easier to wake up.

What are the health benefits of light therapy?

Boosts energy levels

The higher your levels of serotonin, the higher your energy levels. Bright light therapy is ideal for people who feel less energetic during winter due to lack of sunlight.

Light therapy tricks your body into producing serotonin, bringing back your summertime energy. 

Regulates sleep

Light therapy helps produce melatonin, which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle or biological rhythm. Inadequate melatonin causes multiple sleep disorders.

Due to its high sensitivity to light, the human sleep-wake cycle is affected by the amount of sunlight the body receives. Biological rhythm light therapy helps regulate sleep when used at the appropriate times of the day.

It allows you to have longer night-time sleep and fewer daytime naps and disturbances during the night. A healthy sleeping pattern makes it easier for you to cope with various symptoms of anxiety, such as uneasiness, dread, and fear.

Improves mental health

Light therapy helps combat  mood disorders such as winter blues  due to low serotonin levels. Serotonin affects how several cells in the brain work to manage moods.

Individuals experiencing memory loss and cognitive decline can benefit from light therapy as it can help  improve sleep disturbances

Enhances your memory

A study made a breakthrough in 2017, showing how people with declined memory and Alzheimer’s disease  displayed low serotonin  neurons. 

Low serotonin levels are a direct cause of poor memory and not just a byproduct. It is believed that increasing serotonin levels with light therapy can help improve memory decline and cognitive function.

Regulates digestion and appetite

Adequate  serotonin helps with regular bowel function , making eating habits healthier. It also reduces appetite, decreasing the chances of obesity.

Red light therapy increases  leptin levels while decreasing ghrelin . Leptin is the hormone secreted by adipocytes to minimise feelings of hunger, while ghrelin increases food intake and reduces metabolism.

You may also like: How Can Light Therapy Revolutionise Your Creative Process? Uncover the Truth .


What are the types of light therapy devices?

Selecting the right light therapy device can be confusing due to the multiple light therapy treatments available. Here, we discuss the most popular and effective types of light therapy devices. 

Light therapy glasses

Light therapy glasses are some of the latest technology, making light therapy easy and accessible for most individuals. These devices emit a blue-enriched white LED light in multiple intensities, including 500, 1000, and 1500 LUX.

They also look futuristic and cast the light they emit directly into your eyes and face. They are portable and can easily fit into your schedule, making them ideal for people with busy days and limited time in the sun.

Despite being easily accessible, it is recommended that if you have a medical history, you seek professional help to determine how long and when it is most appropriate for you to use them. 

Luminette Light therapy glasses are a great way to incorporate blue light therapy into your daily activities.

Lightboxes

Lightboxes are flatscreens that health practitioners often recommend for 30 to 60 minutes of use every day.

They are available in some health clubs with lightbox rooms, where you can sit in front of the box if you cannot afford at-home devices.

Natural spectrum light bulbs

Natural spectrum light bulbs mimic natural daylight and can be used as floor or desk lamps. They are less cumbersome than lightboxes and can produce light at an intensity of at least 10,000 LUX.

The science behind their benefits is still slightly mixed. They help adjust your biological rhythm and enhance your moods.

Natural spectrum light bulbs are available in most lighting, art supplies, and home improvement stores. They are also available in most e-commerce stores that sell light therapy equipment.

Light therapy visor

A  light therapy visor  is a lightweight device worn on the head to help counteract the effects of fatigue and jet lag. It is a portable unit that emits light at wavelengths ranging from 100 to 1000 LUX.

This device directs the light downwards toward your face, making it more effective and easy to use. Users mainly wear it in the morning for about 30 minutes to help block the release of melatonin, which increases their energy and alertness.

Light therapy visors have an adjustable strap for a comfortable fit. With a button press, you can alternate between white and red light therapy.

How do I use light therapy effectively?


Everyone responds to light therapy differently, so it's essential to know how to use it to address your specific needs.

Here are tips to help you get the best out of light therapy:

  • Position your device at eye level or higher: Your light therapy device should mimic being in the sun, and placing it at your eye level can make a difference. Light therapy glasses from Luminette are highly effective as they emit light directly onto your face.

  • Use your device consistently : Consistently using a light therapy device will likely yield better results in boosting your mood and energy. If you are combating winter blues, use it every day for a few minutes from early fall to winter.

  • Combine light therapy with other effective approaches: To maximise its effect, light therapy can be combined with cognitive behavioural therapy. Other approaches to accompany light therapy include yoga, exercise, and mindfulness.

  • Seek help from a light therapy specialist : Some people may be sensitive to light due to factors such as certain medical conditions or medications. Therefore, it is important to speak with a specialist to determine whether and how to use light treatment effectively.


Is light therapy suitable for me?

Light therapy has proven beneficial for people with winter blues, feelings of deep sadness, and sleep problems. It is an effective treatment method to help improve and regulate your moods.

However, it is always recommended to seek professional help to determine how light treatment will affect you and how you should use it.


Takeaway: Using light therapy for winter blues and other conditions

Light therapy is an effective way of tricking the body into generating melatonin and serotonin hormones produced after exposure to sunlight. 

This therapy helps people with low mood or sleep problems by balancing their biological rhythm. It is ideal for people living far away from the equator who experience winter blues due to prolonged lack of sunlight.

This treatment is available through multiple devices; light therapy glasses are one of the most effective. They are portable and easy to fit into your daily schedule.

Our Luminette light therapy glasses have features that allow customisation to fit everyone's needs.  Get our Luminette light therapy glasses today .

FAQ

What happens during light therapy?

Patients are exposed to light at specific intensities during light treatment depending on their condition and goals.

Who needs to receive light therapy?

Light therapy is ideal for people often affected by people who struggle with low moods during winter or individuals with problems.

What condition is light therapy often used to treat?

This treatment is often used to improve sleeping patterns, boost energy levels, and improve people's overall mental health.

Is it safe to do light therapy daily?

Yes. Depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's recommendations, it is possible to do light therapy daily for a specific duration.

Does light therapy improve energy and concentration?

Light therapy is believed to improve serotonin levels, which keep people energised and productive throughout the day.