12 Benefits of Light Therapy
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 specialized light therapy lamps are an effective treatment. What used to be only accessible and affordable via healthcare providers is now available to anyone, anywhere.
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: melatonin and serotonin. By sitting in front of a light therapy lamp for 20-30 minutes each morning, we replace some of that lost sunlight. These 12 light therapy lamp benefits have been thoroughly researched and tested based on the effects bright light therapy has on users.
#1. Increased Energy
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 as 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.
#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.
#3. Improved Mental Health and Moods
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.
#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. Lacking in productivity? Try a light therapy light.
#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.
#6. Reduced 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#11. Lowered Blood Pressure
Another 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.
#12. Creates a Well-Lit Environment
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.
While a light seasonal depression lamp alone will not fix health issues, it can help. Combining bright light therapy 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. If you’d like to learn more about sun therapy, 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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