After just finishing writing a post about light boxes and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I realized that I should probably write a post that strictly talks just about light box therapy as it is a pretty important topic.
Ever wonder why people generally feel happier when it is sunny out?
Light boxes basically have two primary uses; they can be used for light therapy, or they can just be used to just help you sleep better. For the majority of people you will probably just use a light box to get some extra light in your eyes. Weather it be in the morning when you wake up, in your office while you are working, or even if you work the night shift.
Using Light Therapy To Cure Depression
The other thing that light boxes are effectively used for is curing depression and mood related problems. People who do not get enough regular light in their day are often more depressed and can develop problems such as bipolar disorder and similar mental problems. Although light box therapy will not cure these problems, treatment can be very effective to making your live much enjoyable.
But…where do you start?
First thing is you need to get a light that is going to be bright enough to help regulate your circadian rhythm. Anything that is over 1000 lux is good but ultimately if you want really good results you need to get a light that produces 10,000 or more lux. On your average sunny day 10,000 lux is how bright the sun is about midday, so a light that is that bright will be pretty effective. Keep in mind however that nothing is truly better then REAL natural sunlight, so get outside as much as you can.
These lights can be expensive, I picked one up recently for $180 but the thing works really good, so shop around and grab one that has good reviews. It is also a good idea to get a light that produces white colored lighting unless you prefer blue, but for reading and all use purposes white is more attractive to me.
How To Effectively Use Your Light Box?
In the beginning you probably want to use your light box first thing in the morning. The particular model I have says to use it for 30 minutes but you could probably use it longer if you wanted to. Just be careful because mine tends to heat fairly quickly so you might want to keep an eye on that.
Try to position the light box so that it is in front of you but so that you are not staring directly at it. If possible try to put your light on a stand or have it hanging from the wall to mimic how natural sunlight enters your eye.
I usually read a book or do some kind of desk work that will keep me busy for at least 30 minutes or so. I would advise not using a computer as your eyes in the morning can get really strained.
After you are done your first dose you can continue with your normal routine. If at all possible try to get outside more often if possible as well. If you work a desk job like myself then try to use your light at work if possible. My light comes with a low ambient light which is 7000 lux bright. This is roughly as bright as the sun is when it sets, I will usually turn this option on every now and then throughout the day when I feel I could use a little light.
In the beginning you probably do not want to use your light too much as it can cause strain and headaches, it takes about a week for your eyes to get used to the light. Especially if you are not used to going outside in the morning.
You should start to get results right away and chances are you will feel better. If you look at some of our other posts and use them to help yourself get an even better sleep then you will be feeling fine and dandy in no time. Of course, depression is a long road and it takes more then a light to cure it, but making your life as natural as possible definitely helps.
If you are someone who suffers from SAD then let us know what you think.