Bright Light Therapy
Bright light therapy is used to treat people who suffer from circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Bright light therapy is the used to treat various ailments, but primarily depressive and sleep disorders with the help of natural or artificial light.
Your body has an internal clock that tells it when it is time to be asleep and when it is time to be awake. This clock is situated in the brain just above an area where the nerves travel to the eyes.
This clock manages the “circadian rhythms” in your body. These rhythms include body temperature, alertness and the daily cycle of many hormones.
The word “circadian” means to occur in a cycle of about 24 hours. Circadian rhythms make you feel alert or drowsy at usual times every day. Some people have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. This causes their natural sleep time to overlap with regular awake actions such as work or school.
Among other factors, your exposure to bright light such as sunlight sets the clock. One method of treating people with a circadian rhythm sleep disorder is exposure to bright light or “Bright light therapy”.
With the help of Bright light therapy, someone can “re-set” a clock that is off. Regular sleep patterns help to keep the clock set at the new time. Bright light therapy is only part of a treatment plan that should be guided by a doctor who is familiar with sleep disorders.
In Bright light therapy, you will be exposed to strong but safe amounts of light for a specific and regular length of time. In many places, sunlight is unavailable at the proper time to be used as treatment. Artificial light may be used to affect the body clock in the similar way that sunlight does.
Bright light therapy is the form of light therapy most commonly used today. It requires that you sit near a special light box fitted with high-intensity light bulbs, which may provide either full-spectrum or white light.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This type of Bright light therapy has been proven to be especially useful in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs as the amount of daylight decreases with the change of seasons. It has also been shown to be efficient for some sleep disorders.
Practitioners usually recommend sitting for 15 to 20 minutes in front of a light box with 10,000-lux capacity for SAD. This light is about 15 times brighter than normal home or office lighting.
By installing full-spectrum bulbs in place of incandescent or fluorescent room lighting, you can also receive Bright light therapy. This method is less effective for depressive disorders, however, because they tend to react better to intense rather than dissipated lighting.
Bright Light Therapy – Working Process
While some of the claims for the health benefits of Bright light therapy is as yet untested, it is known that adequate light is vital to many features of healthy living. For instance, light is needed to maintain the body's circadian rhythms, or internal clock.
Numerous functions are controlled by these rhythms, from hormone levels to sleep and wake cycles. Studies show that the eye turns light into electrical impulses, which travel along the optical nerve to the brain, triggering the release of the mood-altering chemical, serotonin and other chemical messengers.
When the circadian rhythms are thrown off, health problems can develop. This can occur when people spend much of their time indoor, work odd shifts, or fly across time zones, or when the amount of daylight decreases in the fall and winter. Body’s natural circadian rhythms can be re-established with the help of Bright light therapy.
Health Benefits Of Bright Light Therapy
Depression associated with PMS, chronic anxiety and panic attacks, severe jet lag, and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia can be treated with Bright light therapy.
Dermatologists for psoriasis use a specific form of light therapy with ultraviolet radiation. This is only done under a physician's direct supervision, however.
Studies also show that Bright light therapy can also be efficient for insomnia, helping to restore normal sleep patterns in people who can't fall asleep at night or who wake up too early in the morning.
A physician, physical therapist, or psychologist usually administers Bright light therapy. Look for a well-trained, experienced clinician. Insurers may reimburse for the cost of the lighting systems used to treat seasonal affective disorder and skin problems, if a physician prescribes the therapy.
- Check with your eye doctor before starting light therapy, if you have glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal detachment.
- Never look directly into the light source during your therapy.
- Call your doctor before starting Bright light therapy, if you have a itchiness accompanied by a fever.
- Avoid Bright light therapy, if your skin or eyes are highly sensitive to light.
- If you have any type of bipolar disorder, avoid Bright light therapy.
- Check with a health-care expert before starting any form of Bright light therapy.