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13 Benefits of Light Therapy

Curious about the benefits of a happy light?

10,000 LUX light helps in many ways, such as more energy, better mental health, and improved sleep. This article breaks down a few therapy light benefits with studies showing how.

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While bright light therapy (also known as phototherapy) has surged over the past years, it’s nothing new.

It was first written about by Hippocrates in 400 BC when he described the importance of the sun. Then, in 1984, Norman Rosenthal first defined Seasonal Affective Disorder, explaining how the benefits of light therapy lamps can aid in reducing symptoms.

What used to be only accessible and affordable via healthcare providers is now available to anyone, anywhere.

What Does Light Therapy do?

If you’re not familiar with what SAD light therapy is, allow me to explain.

Light treatment involves sitting in front of a specialized 10,000 LUX light therapy lamp. These lamps are designed to put out high amounts of light (LUX) to mimic the sun. Our bodies need sunlight, but we rarely receive enough of it—the sun aids in our body’s ability to produce two essential hormones:

By sitting in front of a light therapy lamp for 20-30 minutes each morning, we replace some of that lost sunlight to trigger the production of those hormones.

These 13 light therapy lamp benefits have been thoroughly researched and tested based on the effects bright light therapy has on users.

Note: In order to gain the benefits of a sun lamp, it's vital to incorporate other activities such as quality sleep, a healthy diet, and exercise.

What are the Benefits of a Happy Light?

Light therapy benefits: Increased energy

#1. Increased Energy

Does light therapy boost energy and focus?

One of the many functions serotonin regulates is energy. Higher levels of serotonin are associated with higher energy levels.

A significant benefit of sunlight can be obtained through bright light therapy as well. We may feel less energetic during the winter months due to low serotonin levels because sunlight is not accessible.

SAD lamps produce 10,000 LUX (the amount of light needed to benefit from the sun) to trick our bodies into creating serotonin, thus boosting energy levels. 

Light therapy benefits: Better regulated sleep

#2. Better Regulated Sleep

Another reaction to sunlight is melatonin production. Melatonin aids in regulating our circadian rhythm, known as our sleep-wake cycle.

Having an inadequate level of melatonin has been shown to cause many sleep disorders. By sitting in front of a seasonal affective disorder lamp in the morning, we mimic the sun coming up, thus causing our bodies to produce more melatonin.

The human sleep-wake cycle is highly sensitive to light, making it essential to getting quality sleep. A review article on light box therapy for circadian rhythm disorder concluded that circadian rhythm light therapy effectively regulates sleep. The study found that using bright light therapy for sleep disorders at the appropriate time of day can aid in aligning one's sleep-wake cycle with the desired sleep schedule.

A recent 2022 study found light therapy to prevent sleep disruption for women undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. When compared to a dim red light group, the white light group experienced:

  • Longer night-time sleep
  • Fewer sleep disturbances during the night
  • And had fewer and shorter daytime naps.

If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep or not sleeping through the night, try harnessing the benefits of happy lights during the day for better sleep at night.

#3. Improved Mental Health and Moods

Light Therapy Benefits for Depression

Light therapy for depression is by far the most common use of phototherapy lights. A significant reason people develop mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder is low serotonin levels.

Most of the 40 million cells in our brains are impacted by serotonin, including our moods. When we have higher serotonin levels, our moods become more manageable, and we’re less likely to develop related mental conditions. Light box therapy helps boost serotonin, giving us the ability to better manage moods.

Dementia

A core area affected by dementia is one's circadian rhythm. Patients with dementia often experience a chaotic sleep-wake cycle. Studies have shown light therapy for dementia to regulate rest and activity better while enhancing sleep efficiency. However, more research is needed.

While more research is needed, the benefits of phototherapy in mental health has shown promising results. Using bright light therapy for depression, anxiety, and other mental health impairments can relieve symptoms and lead to a better quality of life.

Light therapy benefits: Increased productivity and focus

#4. Increased Productivity and Focus

Another of the many effects of serotonin are more energy.

When we have more energy, our productivity spikes alongside our ability to focus. When we have more serotonin levels, we’re happier. Being in a good mood is another productivity booster. When we’re happy, our body continues to produce more serotonin—a domino effect of better health and wellness.

A 2012 study on the effects of lighting in office environments that "more intense light can improve feelings of alertness and vitality, as well as objective performance and physiological arousal."

When compared to low lighting, the intense lighting made subjects feel less sleepy and more energetic. 

Lacking in productivity? Try getting it from the benefits of a therapy light.

Light therapy benefits: Improved memory

#5. Improved Memory

There wasn’t much evidence of the effects serotonin has on memory for some time until a breakthrough was made in 2017.

A John Hopkins study of the brain showed that those with a declined memory and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease have a severe decrease in serotonin neurons.

This finding leads them to believe that low serotonin levels were a direct cause of memory decline rather than a byproduct. Now they think that by increasing serotonin levels, they can reduce memory decline.

Light therapy benefits: Reduced anxiety

#6. Reduced Anxiety

Can Light Therapy Help with Anxiety?

Another effect light therapy has on our bodies is increased melatonin production.

While melatonin is primarily known for regulating sleep, it’s been shown to reduce anxiety as well. Numerous studies have been conducted to show the effects of melatonin on reducing anxiety before surgery. Patients who were administered melatonin beforehand showed reduced symptoms of anxiety and stress.

Multiple studies have shown light treatment for anxiety to be effective. One study involving 58 patients with anxiety from epilepsy found this treatment to be effective in reducing symptoms.

Another study in 2013 found positive results for those undergoing phototherapy treatment compared to a sham treatment.

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"I have used this lamp every day for 20 days now, as soon as I wake up, for 30 minutes. I started noticing the positive affects within the first week. NO KIDDING. I felt an increase in my energy level but more importantly, I didn't feel down, my mood has definitely elevated. I would describe it as bursts of positivity throughout the day. I come home from a long day of work and am still in a good mood, I have more energy and drive to make dinner, run errands, play with the dog, etc. before, I would come home and basically collapse." -Amazon Review

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Light therapy benefits: Increased sexual function

#7. Increased Sexual Function

A two-week study conducted using light therapy and its effects on male sexual function showed this treatment method worked on those with diagnosed hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) and sexual arousal disorder (SAD).

High levels of serotonin are associated with low libido, while low levels are associated with increased libido.

Light therapy benefits: More regulated digestion and appetite

#8. More Regulated Digestion and Appetite

Another aspect that serotonin impacts are our digestion and appetite regularities.

Having a healthy amount of serotonin is essential to healthy eating habits. It aids in regular bowel function and reduces your appetite as you eat. Many studies have shown light therapy to be effective in helping treat those with eating disorders.

Light therapy benefits: You heal quicker and more efficiently

#9. You Heal Quicker/More Efficiently

If you’ve ever cut yourself and it formed a blood clot to heal, you have serotonin to thank. After cutting ourselves, our blood platelets release serotonin to aid in healing the wound. Serotonin causes arteries to narrow and help form blood clots.

Light therapy benefits: Increased ability to learn more

#10. Increased Ability to Learn More

Another side effect of low energy (and often seasonal depression) is a decreased cognitive ability to learn.

Low levels of serotonin are often associated with low energy levels. And according to Harvard Health Publishing, “constant fatigue can make you less mentally and physically active, hamper cognitive function, and diminish overall quality of life.”

Humans need energy to function correctly. Light therapy lamps aid in this by tricking your body into producing more serotonin. More serotonin means more energy, which results in a better ability to learn and process information.

Light therapy benefits: Lowered blood pressure

#11. Lowered Blood Pressure

A core benefit of sunlight is it lowers blood pressure. But sunlight does pose health risks if overexposed due to UV rays. This is where light therapy comes into play.

British scientists found that exposing your entire body to blue light therapy for 30 minutes effectively lowered blood pressure. Not only that, but poor mental health and stressful situations can cause blood pressure to spike temporarily.

While they aren’t linked directly, taking the necessary steps to improve your wellness (such as light therapy) can reduce blood pressure overall. 

Light therapy benefits: Creates a well-lit environment

#12. Creates a Well-Lit Environment

Another daylight lamp benefits is they really lighten up a room.

Having a well-lit home or work environment isn’t just aesthetically pleasing but useful for your health as well. Humans need light to function correctly. Having a properly lit environment aids in keeping our sleep-wake cycle-regulated. It preserves eye health, makes navigation easier without falling, and can help our moods and overall mental state.

Light therapy benefits: Safe & Drug Free

#13. Safe & Drug-Free

When it comes to treating conditions such as seasonal depression, anxiety, and circadian rhythm disorder, a common method used is medications. And while these do work, they can have harmful long-term effects on the body.

Not only is light therapy drug-free, but it's safe as well. It can be a safe way to reduce dependency on medications with little to no side effects.

If you're questioning it's legitimacy in this regard, consider these findings and studies:

  • A 2022 study on light therapy concluded that this treatment "offers a simple, safe and cost-effective approach to augmenting depressive treatment on an acute psychiatric floor." 
  • A systematic review of 15 separate studies found light therapy to be as effective (if not more) when compared to antidepressants.

If you're looking for a more holistic method to treat low energy, poor sleep, and depleting mental health, light therapy may help. While it won't outright replace the use of medications, it can minimize dependency.

To recap, the benefits of bright light therapy lamps include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mental health and moods
  • Increased productivity and focus
  • Improved memory
  • Less anxiety
  • Increased sexual function
  • More regulated digestion and appetite
  • Improved ability to heal
  • Better ability to learn and process information
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • A well-lit environment
  • Safe & drug-free

While a light seasonal depression lamp alone will not fix health issues, it can help.

Combining happy light benefits with other practices such as exercise, eating healthy, and wellness can make a significant difference in one’s mental wellbeing, physical fitness, and overall quality of life.

f you’d like to learn more about the science behind these sun lamp benefits, our ultimate guide covers everything you need to know, including the importance of sunlight, selecting a light therapy lamp, what experts have to say about light therapy treatment, and more.

About the Author

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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