I was due to enter this world on Christmas Day, but since my mum had no intention of being in a hospital that day, I was ‘invited’ to arrive early, on December 23, one of the five darkest days of the year. Despite all the birthday and holiday festivities, I find winter challenging so I have focused on finding ways to maintain my energy throughout the season.
Adding to a host of other things one can do to make the best of the season I recently purchased a light therapy lamp. I first tried one through a research study in the mid-90’s. I had begun to dread the arrival of winter from July 31st on when my lifestyle included taking a subway to work and sitting in a cubicle all day.
I remember that lamp being very large, perhaps 18 inches wide and 2 feet tall. I was instructed to sit under it for half an hour in the mornings. It was so bright and so large I remember it being overwhelming to be near. The technology was new and I could only sign out the lamp for a two week period before being thrust back into the dark.
Light therapy works by stimulating more of the eyes’ photoreceptors which in turn lead to a suppression in the production of melatonin, the hormone that suppresses the sleep and wake cycle. Over the years studies have proven that it is helpful for depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), carbohydrate cravings and sleep disorders.
I’m thrilled to say light therapy lamps have come a long way! I purchased the lamp you see in the picture above, a natural spectrum light with a footprint of just over a 4 by 6 inches, and is under 1 foot in height. It fits easily on my desk while I work in the morning and would be easy to bring to a kitchen counter. It has two brightness settings allowing for brighter light in the morning and a dimmer option in the afternoon, as well as a comfort lens to further reduce brightness. Dimming the light would require sitting in front of the light for longer, or being closer to it. It’s great to have options so you can customize the experience based on your sensitivity to light. (See Considerations below)
I have been using the lamp daily for the past ten days and I do think it has boosted my energy. It is reported that one may feel positive effects in as little as 2-4 days. I am sure it helped me get through last week’s busy days with client meetings and evening appointments. Normally I am itching to get in my pyjamas at 6 pm during the winter and I’ve had no trouble heading out to 8:30 pm yoga classes.
We have had very gray days here recently and I have been wishing someone would “turn the lights on” outside. At least now I can get some sunshine, inside.
From research paper The Effect of Exercise and Light on Mood: on Light Therapy
“Patients with pre-existing ocular abnormalities or using photosensitizing drugs should use BLT only with regular ophthalmological examinations. Common side effects include eye-strain, irritation and headache, but these seldom lead to treatment cessation. However, if BLT is administered in the evening, insomnia is common. Suicidal tendencies and even suicide have been reported as possible complications of BLT.” BLT = Bright Light Therapy
You will also find further information on light intensity and duration on page 25 of the paper.
Note: This is not a sponsored post.