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Bright Light Therapy: Through the Looking Glass

All mammals including humans have a biological clock ticking inside their bodies. This clock paces up with the circadian rhythm that regulates the cycle of wakefulness and slumber. It is also associated with the up and down of blood pressure, heart rate, renal, gastrointestinal and immune system activity. A disruption in this rhythm can result in a type of sleep disorder called the delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). People affected by it sleep and wake up too late. In such a case, the body clock is unable to align with the external environment like exposure to light, usually the sunlight. Researchers have found that one of the effective cures of this disease could be use of bright light therapy. Let us look into the details of this therapy.

Bright light can restore circadian rhythm

How does Bright Light Therapy Work?

In this, artificial light is used to reset the circadian rhythm. You may think that the polychromatic light or the white light normally we use for indoor lighting may serve the purpose. But indoor lights have very low intensity and therefore would not be effective. High intensity of light (10,000 lux) is needed to influence the circadian rhythm. Light is a significant factor in our sleep pattern. It sends signals to our brains to increase melatonin production in low light. Melatonin hormone reduces the body temperature that brings sleep. In patients of DSPS, artificial light is used to synchronize the body clock as sunlight does in normal conditions. If you are diagnosed of DSPS and have to take light therapy, do so under the supervision of an expert therapist and a physician. Light boxes are available in the market but to be on safe side, be in touch with good doctor while taking it. You can get them between a price range of $360 to $500.

Is Bright Light Therapy Beyond Side Effects?

Light therapy devices are available at various price ranges

Surveys have found that bright light therapy has been well tolerated by people who were administered with it. However, mild side effects like headaches, queasiness, and irritation in the eyes occur just after kicking off. Some people also encounter a situation of over-activeness. These side effects go away once you are used to the therapy. If they persist you can use a humidifier, increase distance from the light or bring down the duration. If you find light to be too glary and  intolerable use a tilted light box. Blue light which is usually the cause of the glare can be screened out by wearing special eyeglasses. People who are ailing from eye abnormalities should consult a doctor before beginning with the therapy. Light therapy does not cause any hazards to pregnant women, but it is better to seek the suggestion of a physician. Most light therapy devises do not emit UV rays (ultraviolet rays), but some people show redness of the skin when exposed to it. You can use UV-blocking, alternate bulbs, or sun screen lotion in such case.  Lastly, do not make light boxes at home as they might not be efficient enough or can cause electric hazards.

Final Words on Bright Light Therapy

I hope this article on bright light therapy was helpful to you and wish that the therapeutic light is able to restore your sound night sleep.