Healthy Living

Light Therapy for Insomnia

Insomnia: Light Therapy

Diagnosis and treatment of insomnia can be a daunting task, especially for the affected individuals who have limited knowledge about the disorder. Among the various treatments that have been recommended by specialists, one of the most effective is light therapy.

Light therapy prescribed by a specialist is ideal for the treatment of insomnia. In cases involving severe insomnia, it is always recommended to seek the professional advice of psychiatrists or specialized doctors. This article is focused on exploring the activities and procedures followed in light therapy for treating insomnia.

To acquaint you with the concept, light therapy is a powerful treatment for symptoms that may come about as a result of insomnia such as the inability to sleep and depression. To treat these symptoms, experts prescribe a particular time of day and duration necessary for the patients’ exposure to light of certain wavelengths. The design of light therapy filters ultraviolet rays and makes use of visible light for treatment. Before you adopt this technique, it is very important that you do it under the supervision of a doctor or other qualified professional. Some of the devices used in light therapy sessions are:

  • Light box
  • Desk lamps
  • Dawn simulators
  • Light visor

Light Box

A light box simulates outdoor light. Treatment occurs with the patient being several inches away but facing the direction of the box. As you do other activities, the light is detected by your eyes, which in turn, regulates the rhythmic body systems that cause sleep.

Treatment sessions last between 15-30 minutes. An individual may require a couple of sessions daily. The number of sessions is determined by the individual’s needs, the strength of light, and their body's response. It is important that people are exposed to the right amount of light at the recommended duration and time of day.

Light therapy has proven to be beneficial for those suffering from dizziness and body fatigue. Not only does this therapy help increase focus, but it also proves to be vital for maintaining proper vision.  

Desk Lamps

Designed to look exactly like normal lamps, desk lamps serve the same purpose as light boxes. They are ideal for use in the office setting. Desk lamps offer the best light therapy and act as natural sleep aids to help the body maintain and regulate its circadian rhythms.

Regulating these rhythms significantly improves sleep patterns, cognitive functions, and energy levels. Choosing a natural sleep aid for sleeplessness means you won’t feel the morning wooziness or other side effects that come with so many prescription-based sleep drugs. The desk lamp helps align the natural body clock, so that one may experience restful sleep and energized mornings.

Dawn Simulators

These light sources are designed to mimic morning sunrise by changing a dark room to being brighter for a specified period. In recent years, manufacturers of dawn simulators have improved their devices, making them increasingly user-friendly. Because dawn simulation requires less active effort, a user may be more compliant with using it consistently. This is suitable for individuals who find dawn simulators helpful before they wake up.

Light Visor

A light visor is made to be worn on the head and hangs over the eyes. It is ideal for mobile use and produces light ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 lux. The portable nature of this visor allows the user the freedom to move around while enjoying the light. To successfully implement its usage, all one needs to do is select the light intensity setting and move about freely while receiving their required dose of bright light for the day.  

The symptoms and conditions that could be easily and more efficiently treated by light therapy include:

Sleep Disorders

Light therapy has proven to be effective for the treatment of sleeping disorders due to misaligned circadian rhythms, which range from difficulties with sleep onset, oversleeping, frequent interruptions in sleeping patterns, workers under shifting schedules, and those lacking regular sleep patterns.

Individuals with sleeping disorders have irregular sleep-wake cycles. Including light therapy for treatment can help change such irregularities.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is classified as a subtype of depression that affects an individual in the cold winter and disappears in the warm summer time.

Light therapy has proven to be the most effective method of treating SAD. The late appearance of sunlight in winter causes delays in the circadian rhythm. Thus, morning light should be applied as it is useful for SAD symptom treatment. In winter, individuals with SAD produce higher amounts of melatonin as compared to summer. Light therapies can be noticed best either in the morning or evening.

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression can potentially complicate childbearing and pose public health problems. The treatments for perinatal depression have been known to affect breastfed newborns. There is a possibility that antidepressant drugs can have severe adverse effects on newborn infants.

Light therapy offers an alternative treatment option. This therapy has no known risks or complications to an infant or fetus. Moreover, light therapy can be performed comfortably at home and is usually cheap. Bright light can help provide an ideal treatment to new mothers even if insomnia appears with other comorbidities.

Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder (ASPD)

Advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD) is commonly present in older individuals. Persons with this disorder tend to wake or fall asleep earlier than socially expected.

Administering bright light therapy in the evening is ideal for ASPD treatment. This technique works by temporal inhibition release of the hormone called melatonin. This particular hormone is responsible for causing sleep. When exposure to this bright light is cut-off, the melatonin is released, thereby inducing sleep.

This disorder occurs concurrently with insomnia and usually affects senior citizens. Those suffering from ASPD can often feel isolated because of their overwhelming drive to sleep, which stops them from participating in any form of occupational, family, or social activities. This is especially true for activities that are held in the evening hours.