Light Therapy for Seasonal Depression and Sleep Disorders

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Winter time is coming…and in the middle of winter, I always start craving a sun-filled vacation. Unfortunately, I can’t just pick up and take a vacation to lay in the sun all winter! I also find myself having a hard time waking up in the dark. My body simply does not enjoy early mornings. So, I started reading about light therapy to regulate sleep schedules. The information I found was very interesting and convincing–especially for treating seasonal depression. For example, I read that “Researchers at more than 15 medical centers and clinics in both the U.S. and abroad have had much success with light therapy in patients with clear histories of SAD for at least several years. Marked improvement is usually observed within a week, if not sooner, and symptoms usually return in about the same amount of time when the lights are withdrawn. ” (from this site hosted by Columbia University.)

I took the plunge and invested in a light therapy lamp and I bought this one about five years ago, (it was over $100 back then, so it looks like prices are really coming down!) From the first time I used this light, I felt great. Maybe it was just my expectations or a placebo effect, but I sat next to it and felt like real sunshine was warming my face. The light is very different from a normal light bulb. It’s not so bright that it would blind you, but it has a warm, full-spectrum quality that feels more like daylight than a regular light bulb.

This lamp also has ion therapy, and I hadn’t really heard about that, so I researched it and it sounded pretty promising as well. This published medical study showed that high-density ion therapy is very effective in treating depression. Interesting!

Since I was specifically using the light for sleep issues, my instructions were to use it every morning when I woke up to help my body get ready for the day like it would if the sun was coming up. I found that I really did feel brighter and more awake while using it. The assistance with season depression was a nice bonus!

There are a bunch more medical studies out there as well as more information about using light therapy for sleep disorders. They tend to support the idea that these lamps are beneficial, and I found that mine was a life-saver in the winter. I really looked forward to turning it on every morning 🙂

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