Archives For December 2017

How Light Therapy Can Get You Through Daylight Savings

What is Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight Savings Time, commonly referred to as daylight savings, is the practice of setting clocks forward one hour in the summer and then one hour back again in the fall. A simple way to remember the practice is summed up in the phrase, “spring forward, fall back.” If you grew up in a hemisphere that practices Daylight Savings, this is nothing new.  However, fewer than 40% of countries in the world practice Daylight Savings.  The practice occurs so that we can supposedly make better use of natural daylight but the difference in light is most recognizable in areas that are a specific distance from the equator. While we understand the concept, our brain’s usually do not.

Once you set your clocks back in the fall, it is very easy for your circadian rhythm to get thrown off. It’s pretty difficult to feel balanced and energized when the sun sets at 4:30 pm. Our brains are very perceptive when it comes to sunlight. Darkness means more melatonin being released. This can be a slippery slope.

How Can Light Therapy Help?

Being affected by seasonal changes such as Daylight Savings Time is a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. As we mentioned earlier, our brains are extremely sensitive when it comes to light. More than most people recognize, actually.

The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder Include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbs
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Trouble sleeping (Insomnia)
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Agitation or anxiety

(Symptoms lists from

Seasonal Affective Disorder is often shoved under the rug and called the “winter blues.” But why suffer when you could change it? Light therapy is the magical cure! Well, it’s not really magic – but it works so well it kind of feels that way! Light therapy practices such as the use of a light box can help keep your circadian rhythm in sync with the world around you.

What Is Your First Step?

People suffering from SAD have a couple options for treatment when it comes to light therapy. One option is a light box. A light box provides a measured amount of light through fluorescent bulbs or panels. The light intensity is typically between 2,500 to 10,000 lux. The amount of light is different depending on what you deem necessary for your treatment. Typically, the amount of light would be equal to that of the amount of sunlight you are exposed to on a nice spring day. The light box helps regulate the internal clock in your mind, keeping your brain on track and your energy level high. The light box is typically small to medium sized, easy to carry, and fairly portable, depending on the seriousness of the depression. People undergoing the treatment set aside around 30 minutes a day, sometimes twice a day, and sit 12 to 24 inches away from the light box. You would then carry on with whatever you choose. You can read, knit, write, eat, talk on the phone, etc, while being careful not to look directly into the light.

For people who have trouble waking up in the morning, have not seen results with light therapy boxes, or want to combine two methods, dawn/dusk simulators are recommended. The devices have proven effective for people with mild to severe symptoms. The dawn/dusk simulator helps mimic the ideal lighting and darkness occurring outdoors. For example, if you have trouble waking up in the morning, the simulator can be set to slowly turn on at 8 a.m., or whatever time you choose. A bright light will appear in your bedroom, typically on a bedside table. The simulator leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Another scenario would be helping keep your biological clock on time by mimicking light throughout your day and then shutting down at the accurate outdoors time.

Daylight Savings Time is the number one trigger for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a serious condition and can have a major effect your quality of life. Embrace light therapy. Change the stigma of daylight savings time!

Finding New Uses for Light Therapy

When it comes to using light therapy as a form of treatment, it’s best to not rule anything out. Anything is possible – the sky seems to be the limit! While light therapy is most commonly used for two things – Seasonal Affective Disorder and skin conditions (such as acne) the options really do seem to endless and everything is being studied. If something as simple as light therapy could improve your quality of life, why wouldn’t you give it a go?

Light Therapy Has Always Existed…

Way back in the early 20th century, doctors moved patients’ beds to sunny balconies as a form of treatment for psoriasis and rickets. Did you know that in 1903, a physician named Niels Finsen won the Nobel Prize for inventing a giant lamp that treats skin tuberculosis, also known as Lupus? And back in the 1920s, athletes taking part in the Olympics bathed beneath UV rays before they raced in order to boost their performance.

These experts knew that the sun and man-made versions of light worked, but they were quickly pushed out of the market and replaced with electronics and medicine. While much of this push came from the fear of skin cancer due to the sun and lights, phototherapy has greatly improved in the last decade and that is no longer a concern.

Light therapy is finally regaining popularity and making it’s way into people’s homes all over the world as a harm-free, all natural form of treatment for a wide array of conditions! Consumers in the U.K. actually spent over $300 million on light therapy is 2016. How remarkable is that? Future Market Insights predicts the global market to grow nearly 5% annually in the next decade. This is just the beginning!

How It Works…

Just like plants going through photosynthesis, people have a reaction to light — an actual, scientifically proven, chemical reaction to light. Medscape published an article this year about the potential that light therapy has. In the article on its website, writer Lisa Marshall explains just how this chemical reaction to light works:

“When particles of light hit the skin, they’re absorbed by light-sensitive molecules inside cells, which kick-start a response. That response varies, depending on the wavelength, or color, of light and where it’s used.

For instance, when longer wavelength or visibly ‘red’ light hits the skin, it nudges mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouses) to make energy more efficiently and boost production of healing anti-inflammatories or disease-fighting antioxidants. The light is a ‘very mild form of stress that activates protective mechanisms in the cells,’ says Michael Hamblin, who’s a principal investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine

If the light comes through the eye, it stimulates nerves that lead from the retina to the brain. That influences production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which affect mood, explains Raymond Lam, MD, a researcher from the department of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. Shorter wavelength or visibly “blue” light is very good at making
you wakeful. When it enters the eye, it hinders production of melatonin, which helps with sleep.” (

New Uses…

Light therapy is very commonly marketed in magazines, on websites, with retailers, etc., as a useful form of treatment for conditions such as insomnia, Seasonal Affective Disorder, acne, wrinkles, more serious skin conditions, and more. But what else can this light do? That’s what we’re here to tell you about!

Skepticism is high when it comes to using light therapy for serious diseases, but Hamblin, who we discussed above, has been studying light therapy for 30 years and he is confident that with the right doses, wavelengths, and techniques, light therapy can treat disorders such as chronic pain, dementia, specific forms of cancer, severe migraines, and so much more!

What we’re trying to get to here is that if you are struggling with a physical or mental condition, discuss light therapy with your doctor. You may be able to solve your problems with an inexpensive, harm-free, non-invasive form of treatment in the comfort of your home. Does it get any better than that?