A light therapy lamp can help you get through the months of the year with little light in the best conditions. Indeed, light therapy has been shown to improve sleep quality and improve mood, including potentially fighting depression. One type of light therapy involves the use of “sunlamps.” A solar lamp is usually a small device that you can use in your home every day for about 30 minutes.
Why is a solar lamp good for you?
The use of solar lights is most popular during the fall and winter months when there are fewer daylight hours. For some people, the darkness that comes with winter can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression triggered when people aren’t exposed to enough natural light.
SAD is thought to affect around 6% of adults, while 14% of them have mild SAD-like symptoms. Surprisingly, symptoms can last around 40% of the year in some people, especially in the fall and winter. Even if you don’t have SAD, you can probably benefit from a sunlamp if you tend to experience the “winter blues” and dips in energy, sleep quality, and productivity when you’re out. you’re not in the sun enough.
What is a solar light?
A solar lamp is an intense artificial light that affects your circadian rhythm, also called “internal clock”. Sunlamps are also sometimes called “light therapy”. Most indoor lights aren’t strong enough to cause measurable changes in human circadian rhythms, but solar lights are different because they emit a specific type and intensity of light that has effects on the human brain and hormone production. Sunlamps have been used since around the 1980s to treat seasonal depression, and even today they are the first treatment option for people with this condition. (Medications, therapy, and exercise are also sometimes used).
Numerous clinical studies conducted over the past decades have shown that these lamps reduce symptoms of seasonal depression such as:
loss of interest
lack of concentration
Uses and Benefits
Sunlamps can help treat some of the following symptoms:
Symptoms of seasonal depression (despair, social withdrawal, etc.)
Insomnia and other sleep problems
Vitamin D deficiency
Lack of motivation
Changes in weight and appetite
How do solar lights affect sleep and mood?
Solar lights work by mimicking the natural effects of sunlight. Bright light helps regulate our circadian rhythms by making us alert in the morning when we wake up and then drowsy in the evening when it gets dark. This is due to the effects of hormones, including melatonin, serotonin, and cortisol, the production of which the circadian rhythm helps control.
It is believed that solar lights can help counteract the effects of increased darkness in winter. Researchers believe that the shortening of light days in winter can throw people’s circadian rhythms out of sync and cause them to “drift later”, disrupting their sleep-wake cycles. This drift can make it more difficult to fall asleep and cause morning or daytime sleepiness. Exposure to bright light early in the day can help reset the circadian rhythm cycle earlier, which can aid sleep and daytime functioning. Solar lights can also help people who have trouble staying awake at night and often fall asleep too early. (They may find that exposure to light in the afternoon can help alleviate this problem.
How effective are sunlamps for seasonal depression?
Some experts estimate that between 60 and 80 percent of people with seasonal depression benefit from light therapy. Improvement in SAD symptoms can often begin to be felt within two to five days of using a sunlamp.
Can you get vitamin D from a sunlamp?
Some sunlamps emit UVB light which helps the body produce vitamin D, although not all sunlamps feature this type of light. It is one of the ways to increase vitamin D levels in people who are deficient in this vitamin. (Outdoor sun exposure, supplements, and eating foods containing vitamin D may also help). Vitamin D is an important vitamin that also acts as a hormone in some ways, since it influences the nervous system, as well as the skeletal, cardiovascular and immune systems. People who spend most of their time indoors and don’t get enough sunlight are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, so light therapy can be a good solution.
One downside is that UVB rays can potentially damage the skin if exposed to too much. The fact that some sunlamps increase vitamin D levels makes this type of light therapy different from red light therapy. Red light therapy, which has wavelengths between 630 and 700 nm, does not provide vitamin D but has other benefits related to healing tissue and reducing inflammation and pain.
Are sunlamps beneficial for the skin?
Sunlamps do not tan your skin like the sun does. In fact, many lamps come with filters that eliminate UVA, the type of light that damages the skin and causes sunburn and tanning. Light therapy can contribute to skin health in other ways, however, by increasing vitamin D levels and supporting your immune system. This can result in less inflammation which can lead to various skin problems.
Risks and side effects
Sunlamp light therapy is generally safe if you use a lamp made by a reputable manufacturer. So be sure to do your research and buy a light that has plenty of solid reviews and testimonials.
Can an SAD lamp be used excessively?
Yes, that’s why you should always follow the recommendations that depend on the lamp in question. It is possible to experience mild symptoms related to the use of a sunlamp, such as eye strain and headaches, or potentially more serious problems related to mood, skin and sleep (since these lamps affect hormone levels). Side effects tend to be more pronounced in people who already have eye and skin problems (if UVB light is emitted) and in those who suffer from migraines or mental disorders.
Do not start light therapy if you have any of the following health conditions without consulting a doctor:
Connective tissue injury
Existing skin cancer
Experts say the standard light therapy regimen is light exposure of 10,000 lux in 30-minute sessions shortly after waking up.
Thirty minutes is considered the minimum time recommended by experts to experience the physiological benefits of sunlamps. The time needed depends on the type of light and the person’s goals. This can range from 30 to 90 minutes (about 10,000 lux) of light therapy per day.
The morning is generally considered the best time for light therapy, as it helps regulate the circadian rhythm. (It’s also why experts recommend people get outside in the morning and expose their eyes to natural light if possible). In some cases, light treatments can be spread throughout the day.
As for where to use your solar light, it depends on the adjustability of the light you purchase. With most devices, you will need to stand or sit about two to three feet away. An adjustable lamp is best if you plan to use it looking down, for example for reading or writing. Other lamps have to be placed on a desk and cannot be adjusted, so they are a little less practical.
Lumino lamp, what to look for
There are a few things to consider when buying a solar light:
Type of light (remember that for vitamin D you need a lamp that emits UVB)
The fact that it is adjustable (which will influence how far you have to sit for the treatment, as well as where you can use it).
The most recommended solar lights are those that offer “UV-free” LED light with a light intensity of 7,000 to 10,000 lux. Ideally, the lamp should also be large, adjustable and have a UV filter. Most solar lights provide between 2,500 and 10,000 lux. The higher the light intensity of a lamp, the less time you need to spend in front of it to get benefits from it.
To determine if a light is bright enough for you, consider how it feels: You want a light that’s comfortable and makes you feel like you’re sitting outside on a sunny day, but you shouldn’t be hot or overstimulated.
In terms of size, the best light therapy devices usually have an area of around 30cm by 60cm or more. Larger fixtures emit more light and can be easier to use, plus it reduces the time it takes to sit on them. Most experts strongly recommend using a lamp with the largest surface area possible.
Most lamps use white fluorescent lamps behind a plastic diffuser screen, which filters out ultraviolet rays. This is highly recommended to protect the eyes from damage.
Solar lights are intense artificial lights that are particularly effective for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). They can also be beneficial for anyone who does not have enough exposure to natural light, especially during the winter. . They help regulate your circadian rhythm and can improve your sleep, energy, and mood. Experts recommend a lamp with a brightness of around 10,000 lux, a large screen and a UV-free LED light source. Use your lamp for more than 30 minutes a day, ideally in the morning, for best results.