Is Bright Light Therapy for Me?

I live in the Midwest and absolutely love the changing of the seasons. The relief we feel from summer to fall coupled with the beautiful changing of the leaves - it is a time to get out and enjoy all that nature has to offer. One thing I am not a huge fan of is the shorter days and, sometimes, lack of sunlight. During this time, I notice that I lack energy, motivation, and sometimes feel more sad than usual.

Upon doing research, I have learned that I am not alone in this experience.

When the seasons change and our exposure to sunlight decreases, our bodies may struggle to produce chemical substances that help support mental and physical wellness. Exposure to sunlight can help our bodies produce vitamins and hormones, like vitamin D, serotonin, and melatonin. Without consistent sunlight exposure, we might start to notice changes in our overall feelings of wellness due to a reduction in the amount of these compounds.

On average, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. This leads most of us to not experiencing enough sunlight to help support healthy sleep-wake cycles. When we get adequate levels of sunlight exposure during the day, we are able to produce more melatonin which allows us to sleep better at night. If you have noticed that the reduction in sunlight takes a toll on you as the seasons change, you might have tried to make modifications in your daily routine to increase your exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

So, what options do you have when you find that you are unable to increase your exposure to sunlight daily?

Bright Light Therapy


Bright light therapy, also known as phototherapy, uses timed light exposure to help affect the user's biological clock. Bright light therapy is used to manage circadian rhythm and can help with disorders such as delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPS). This type of therapy can be immensely helpful to people who struggle with sleep disorders, disrupted sleep patterns, or, as focused on here, seasonal light exposure. Bright light therapy has also been shown to be an effective treatment to address the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

During bright light therapy, it is common to use a light therapy box that gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. It is believed that light from the light boxes used during bright light therapy affects brain chemicals linked to mood, sleep, appetite, sexual desire, memory, and energy levels. Bright light therapy has been studied extensively over the years and evidence has shown that bright light therapy is an effective treatment for various circadian rhythm and mood disorders.

What to expect

If you are using light therapy to address the impact of seasonal change, it is suggested to start treatment in the early fall, as soon as the amount of sunlight decreases during the day. Treatment can continue into the spring and can vary in frequency and duration as you follow your care plan. Talking to a doctor can be a helpful step so you are clear on where to start and where you plan will take you.

During bright light therapy sessions, you will sit or work near a light box. The light will need to enter your eyes indirectly - do not look directly at the box because the bright light could be damaging to your eyes. After coming up with a plan with your doctor, it is important to stick to your therapy schedule. Be sure not to over- or under- treat for best results.

Bright light therapy is most effective when you take into account the intensity, duration, and timing that works best for you. The level of light is recorded in a measurement named lux and, for seasonal treatment, it is suggested to use a 10,000 lux light box that is about 16 to 24 inches (41 to 61 centimeters) from your face. Most effective treatment usually occurs daily from 20-30 minutes, early in the morning, after you first wake up.

Tips for successful treatment

There are a few things to take into consideration when you are gearing up to try bright light therapy. Be sure to get the right instrument for you - a light box is not your only option. Many users have experienced success with light bars, light visors, or even dawn simulators to achieve increased exposure to healthy artificial light. One option to be weary of is using a tanning bed to increase your exposure to light. Light therapy works through the eyes, not the skin. Additionally, tanning beds have been shown to expose users to higher levels of UV radiation that can increase health risks.

As previously stated, be sure to work with your medical provider to determine the right course of treatment for you. People with certain conditions, such as bipolar disorder and age-related macular degeneration, might react poorly to light therapy. Finally, be sure to include other treatments if you notice your symptoms do not improve with bright light therapy alone. Options could include increased support via medication or psychotherapy.

What do you think? Is bright light therapy a possible option to help you regulate sleep, increase energy, and improve overall wellness? I have noticed a positive impact in my daily life since I started using my Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp, my hope is that you experience the same!

Use coupon code "TAKE20" to receive 20% of your order thanks to our partnership with Carex!

Mezzo Solutions is a champion for wellness for all. Reach out to us to start a conversation about how we can help you unlock the potential for self-and group-care.

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