It might happen that you are feeling really blue at the end of a hectic day. Or the day doesn’t even have to be hectic. Specially during the time of late fall and winter, you can feel really lethargic and unmotivated. And might just want to go home and lie down on your couch while doing something insignificant or doing nothing at all. And all these issues: tiredness, feeling more sleepy and sad than usual are caused by seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
Your happiness hormone, serotonin can also go for hibernation during this period. As we get less sunlight during winter, more transporter protein and melatonin gets produced while whisking serotonin further away. Hence, the sleepiness and sadness. For this kind of seasonal depression, ‘Bright Light Therapy’ or ‘Phototherapy’ can be a very effective form of treatment.
But there are people who felt that bright light therapy didn’t work as much as they expected it to do. But after inquiring further, it came out that they were not using the light box effectively, they were making some very common mistakes. So, if you want to make the best out of this therapy you need to follow some simple rules. Some tips that can help you to use the therapy perfectly are-
1. Making Sure that Your Lightbox is 10,000 Lux
Remember that you are using the light therapy to mimic the full spectrum of light that you can find in sunlight. So, you can’t take the therapy by using normal lamps, you have to use lightboxes that are used for this bright light therapy or phototherapy. And the lightbox should emit light with strength worth 10,000 lux that is 20 times the strength of the normal indoor lights we use. If you try to use a lamp with fewer lux units, you’ll have to use it for a longer period of time.
2. Your Lightbox Must Filter Out UV Rays
Ultraviolet rays are harmful for your body. So, your lightbox must filter out at least 99% of the UV rays.
3. Properly Positioning Your Lightbox
You have to be careful about properly positioning your lightbox. If you don’t place it as needed, you won’t be able to get the desired results. The position of the light source relative to your eyes is the real deal here. Here the lightboxes are mimicking the sunlight. And as the sun remains over our head, it is better if you can keep the lightbox over your eye level. It is still okay if you keep it level with your eyes. But don’t keep it lower than that. Or, it won’t be able to provide your desired service.
Also, depending on the strength of the lightbox, you need to sit at the perfect distance from the source. If the power is 10,000 lux, you have to sit 2 feet away from the source. And if the strength is less than that, you will have to sit closer accordingly for a better result. Also don;t let the light come directly at your eyes. So, position it about 45 degrees to your right or left from your eyes.
4. Taking the Appropriate Amount of Time to use the Lightbox
You can start taking the bright light therapy every morning for 20 to 30 minutes to see if it’s helping to lift up your mood and energy. If it isn’t still helping, then you can try taking the therapy for longer periods of time, like for up to 60 minutes. You can do other things while taking the therapy like, taking your breakfast or coffee, checking your phone etc.
5. Consistently Using the Light Therapy
From early fall to winter, you should take the bright light therapy daily for a better result and that can really boost your energy and mood. If you are more prone to the winter sadness, then you should be consistent in using the lightbox. Taking the therapy for just a few times a week might be way less effective.
6. Do Not Use Light Therapy if You’re Taking Photosensitive Medications
There are some photosensitive medicines including melatonin, some antibiotics, some acne medications etc. that can make your skin sensitive to light. If you use the therapy with a photosensitive skin, your skin might get affected by it and go through changes that can look like rash or sunburn.
7. Monitoring Your Mood to See the Changes
You will start to notice a positive change in your mood and energy within 1 or 2 weeks of starting to use the bright light therapy. Some people even get a more immediate result. If you don’t get desired results, then you have to be more consistent in taking it and have to take it for longer periods. But make sure to talk to your doctor first, as some people can face some negative reactions such as suicidal thoughts, hypomania etc.
So, if you are looking forward to taking bright light therapy, you can easily follow these 7 simple tips to get a more effective and perfect result for your mood.