1. What is bright light therapy?
Bright light therapy involves daily, scheduled exposure to intense doses of white light in order to regulate seasonal mood swings, improve sleeping patterns, and produce a general sense of well-being. According to medical researchers, bright light therapy systems with fluorescent light tubes are the preferred products for bright light therapy, with a recommended starting dose of 10,000 LUX for 30 minutes per day. (LUX is the measurement of the illumination at a specific distance from a light source)
2. What is bright light therapy used for?
Bright light therapy was originally tested and developed by medical experts in the early 1980's for treating seasonal mood changes regularly experienced by some people during the fall and winter months. These subjects were often quite incapacitated by severe mood changes and required medical treatment. During the spring and summer, however, their symptoms disappeared.
Researchers have explored the benefits of using bright light therapy on people with the "Winter Blues," and studies indicate a good response rate. Other conditions for which bright light therapy looks promising include sleep phase difficulties, shift work, jet lag and those who have low energy.
3. How prevalent is the Winter Blues?
According to a recent reports estimate suggests as many as 40 million North Americans may be affected by some level of the winter blues. Women are at least twice as likely to suffer as men.
4. How do I know if I could benefit from using a bright light system?
You could benefit from using a bright light system if you experience any combination of the following symptoms during the winter months.
5. Have bright light therapy systems been shown to work?
Yes. Since the first controlled light therapy study in 1984, there have been more than 60 controlled studies published by researchers around the world. Experts are now confident that bright lights work for the majority of people with the Winter Blues. (Response rates of 60% to 90% have been shown).
They have also shown promise as an option for those with circadian sleep difficulties, jet lag and shift work adjustment .
6. How does bright light therapy work?
The exact mechanism by which bright light therapy works remains hypothetical. However, bright light therapy has been statistically proven effective in the treatment of the Winter Blues, which puts the role that daylight plays in regulating our daily body rhythms in the forefront of research.
Two main hypotheses are postulated:
7. How long does it take to experience the benefits of using bright light therapy?
Response to bright light therapy is usually very quick, and most people will notice a marked improvement within one week. Most people similarly experience a rapid recurrence of symptoms if they stop using their bright light therapy system.
Longer trials have also shown increasing response to bright light therapy after two weeks, with still more incremental improvements after three or four weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that you continue to use a bright light therapy system for at least a month before concluding it will not help you.
8. Could I get the same benefits by increasing the lighting in my home and office?
If you are particularly light-sensitive, you may feel more uplifted with increased exposure to increased room lighting. However, research studies show that much higher light intensities (at least 2,000 LUX) are required in order to produce the desired therapeutic effects, and it is just not possible using regular fixtures to get ambient lighting above 600 LUX.
Note also that medical experts caution against constructing your own bright light apparatus because of possible electrical hazards, as well as the difficulty in determining adequate light intensity and ensuring ultraviolet (UV) light rays are safely dealt with.
9. What about spending more time outdoors -- would that work?
You should be able to satisfy your need for light by spending more time outdoors during the fall and winter days, as long as you can be outdoors regularly and for extended periods of time if conditions are cloudy. Most people find that difficult to do if they work indoors and have to keep an office schedule. The use of a 10,000 LUX bright light therapy system is therefore the most convenient way to get the light you need.
10. Are there any side-effects from using bright light systems?
Using a properly constructed bright light therapy system as recommended is considered very safe, and few people have to desist use because of side effects. A few temporary side effects, such as slight nausea, tend to pass quickly as you get used to the high intensity of light.
The majority of side effects, such as headache, eye strain, agitation, insomnia or difficulty getting to sleep, are caused by overdoing light therapy sessions. (In this case, it is possible to get "too much of a good thing.") Such symptoms usually disappear when you decrease the "dosage" of light to your optimal level (usually in the 20 to 30 minute range).
11. What if I'm under a physicians care, can I use lights?
That depends. If your symptoms are not seasonally triggered, it is unlikely that a bright light therapy system alone will alleviate your symptoms. However, a bright light therapy system may help uplift your mood.
For treating the Winter Blues, bright light therapy systems are recommended as the first-line, "gold standard" treatment. Many people enjoy remission of symptoms simply by using bright light therapy. Others may not respond at all, though they are in the minority. Since individual requirements can vary widely, your treatment regime should be supervised by your doctor.
12. When is the use of a bright light therapy system not recommended?
If you are on prescribed medication, we advise you to consult your doctor first before you use the Day-Light or any form of light therapy. Certain medicines and other products cannot be used in combination with light exposure.
If you have eye problems, you should consult your doctor or ophthalmologist before you use the Day-Light or any form of light therapy. Certain eye and eye-related conditions that may respond unfavorably to light therapy.
If you are allergic to light or have a diagnosed chronic skin disease, it is safest to consult your doctor before you use the Day-Light or undergo any form of light therapy.
13. Are bright light therapy systems medically approved?
At this point in time, no bright light therapy systems are approved as "medical devices" by government regulatory agencies in the US. When choosing a product, it is important to follow the guidelines of recognized professional bodies to ensure that you select products that meet their strict, third-party guidelines. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics is one of these organizations (www.cet.org)
14. Are bright light therapy systems covered under my medical insurance?
Many private insurance companies recognize the benefits of bright light therapy, its cost advantages and will cover the purchase of a bright light therapy system with a prescription from your doctor. You should contact your insurance company before making the purchase to discuss coverage and determine their specific documentation requirements.
In North America, bright light therapy systems are not approved for reimbursement under government health insurance, but are widely available for purchase over the counter
15. Why do research experts recommend Day-Light Bright Light Therapy Systems?
Day-Light Bright Light Therapy Systems, manufactured by Uplift Technologies Inc., are recommended by healthcare providers because they have been used in, or been designed to meet the standards for clinical studies.
Day-Light Bright Light Therapy Systems have been selected for use in a number of clinical studies since 1989. One prominent researcher, Dr. Ray Lam of UBC says he selected Day-Lights because "they use the latest technology, are of excellent quality, durability and aesthetics, and meet all recommended safety standards. The company also has a track record of dependability."
16. What is the correct way to use Day-Lights for bright light therapy sessions?
For bright light therapy sessions, you would use your Day-Light each morning for 20-30 minutes during the fall and winter months. To receive 10,000 LUX, you need to sit approximately 11 to 15 inches from the light. During the session, you should NOT look directly into the light, but read, eat breakfast or check your e-mail.
17. Why do I need 10,000 LUX?
10,000 LUX for 30 minutes in the morning is what the experts recommend as a starting dosage for bright light therapy. Individuals may need to adjust the duration up or down from the 30 minute dose, or use the light at a different time of day, depending on their individual response to treatment.
While you can get the appropriate dosage of light using a 2,500 LUX system for two hours per day, this is far less convenient for most people. Our Day-Light Bright Light Therapy Systems provide 10,000 LUX at 11 - 15 inches.
18. Can Day-Lights be used in other ways?
The quality of the light emitted by Day-Lights is very pleasant, and may be enjoyed outside the context of bright light therapy. Positioned at arms length (i.e., farther than the 11-15" distance for light therapy), or directed away from the face, they make excellent ambient, reading and task lights. Lightweight and portable, Day-Lights can be used for a variety of purposes.
19. Do Day-Lights cause tanning?
Day-Lights do not cause tanning because the ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause tanning are filtered out (99.3%). Medical experts caution that exposure to unfiltered bright lights for extended periods of time may eventually cause ocular damage. Be wary of "full spectrum" lights unless they are UV filtered.
Please click this LINK to see the spectral distribution graph for Day-Lights .
20. Are Day-Lights expensive to buy and maintain?
The retail price for quality-made, name-brand bright light systems is between $300 and $500. The suggested retail price for Day-Light models ranges from $189 – $229, but actual prices may vary. Day-Lights conform to all technical design guidelines recommended by medical experts for bright light therapy systems:
21. What if the Day-Light doesn't work for me?
Often a 1 - 4 week trial period is enough to determine if the Day-Light Bright Light Therapy System will be effective for you. Many vendors offer return options or may have rental programs where your “rent” is applied to the purchase price. Ask your vendor for details before purchasing.
22. How do I dispose or handle old fluorescent light tubes?
To ensure safe handling of old light tubes, always dispose of light tubes in accordance with local disposal regulations. For current information on fluorescent light tubes, please visit: www.lamprecycle.org, www.epa.gov in the US or www.hc-sc.gc.ca in Canada