10 things to know about light therapy

Light therapy is recommended to prevent or treat seasonal depression, but not only. Here are 10 things to know about this method which relies on the benefits of light.

1.It imitates the sun

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Light therapy consists of daily exposure to white artificial light, called “broad spectrum”, imitating that of the sun or whose qualities are as close as possible to those of the sun. Also called heliotherapy or phototherapy, this therapy exposes the face, but also other parts of the body, to light.

2. It has a therapeutic goal

woman sitting on window edge looking at Empire State tower

Its primary use is indicated in the case of seasonal depressions by reducing the disorders associated with disturbances of the internal biological clock. However, it has other properties: convalescence, scarring, immunity …

3. It can be of several colors

Chromotherapy is color light therapy, a kind of color therapy. It consists of choosing certain colors to achieve an emotional goal through visualization and association techniques in order to achieve psychic balance.

4. It treat insomnia

man lying on bed with laptop on top of chest watching something

Light therapy is effective in restoring a healthy biological rhythm and in consequently treating the various sleep problems (insomnia, early morning awakening, difficulty falling asleep, etc.) The exposure is done in the morning in the subject suffering from delay syndrome of sleep phase and in the evening in the subject with advance sleep phase syndrome. The time and duration of exposure to light must be calculated carefully to avoid an effect opposite to the desired effect.

5. It supports in case of jet lag

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Light therapy could be effective in modifying internal biological rhythms. It could therefore help reduce jet lag due to long trips and improve the sleep of night workers.

6. It’s not just any light

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The light intensity must be greater than 2,000 lux in order to act effectively. For comparison, the brightness of a well-lit office is 300 to 500 lux. Standard light therapy lamps have an average brightness of 10,000 lux.

7. It is practiced at home or at a specialist’s

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A session is generally carried out by making an appointment with a specialized therapist, sports doctor, naturopath. It can also be practiced at home. The lamp chosen must be of high quality: the CE medical marking, guaranteeing the safety of the lamp, must be mentioned.

8. The duration of a session is variable

person holding white mini bell alarmclock

The average duration of a light therapy session is 30 minutes, once a day. For specific care on an area of the body, the exposure is generally 3 minutes in white light, or for colors: 3 minutes of the main color followed by 30 seconds of the complementary color.

9. It is not recommended for people suffering from eye disorders

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The side effects (headache, agitation) of light therapy are rather rare, but specialists agree to advise against this treatment for people suffering from certain eye problems (cataracts, AMD, glaucoma, etc.), as well as certain diseases affecting the retina. Similarly, it is contraindicated for people using drugs with photosensitive effects, including lithium.

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