Light therapy glasses and wearables look more futuristic, radiating a blue or green light over your eyes and on your face. The amazing thing is that these light therapy devices rely on science as old as time. The use of any light therapy device may be beneficial in managing circadian mood and sleep disorders like seasonal affective disorder, jet lag and insomnia. This article focuses on using light therapy glasses to enhance your mood and sleep. Keep reading to find out more!
- What is light therapy?
- How to Use Light Therapy Glasses to Treat Sleep Disorders
- Light Boxes vs. Wearables and Glasses
- When Should You Wear Light Therapy glasses?
- Sleep/Circadian Issues You Can Treat With Light Therapy
- Cautions and Side Effects
What is light therapy?
Light therapy, phototherapy, or bright light therapy uses light to treat different health and medical conditions. For example, light therapy devices produce monochromatic blue/green light and blue-enriched white light that has healing properties to treat circadian rhythm and sleep issues.
Circadian rhythm is the body system that aligns body functions to darkness and light patterns. Bright light therapy helps realign the circadian rhythm for hormonal balance, treating seasonal affective disorder (winter blues), non-seasonal affective disorder, and other mood disorders.
Additionally, light therapy is firmly-established for circadian rhythm sleep disorders, including sleep phase, delayed disorders, shift work, and mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder and major depressive attacks from unipolar or bipolar disorders.
Now that we understand what light therapy is, let's look at how to use light therapy glasses to improve mood and sleep.
How to Use Light Therapy Glasses to Treat Sleep Disorders
Principally, light therapy glasses are designed to reset the mind's biological clock by imitating the natural sunlight. The light therapy glasses will produce accurate and reliable doses of bright light that will help with treatment. When the bright light reaches the retina, the photoreceptors signal the pineal gland to stop the production of melatonin or sleep-inducing hormone. At the same time, the light triggers cortisol, the alerting hormone, to keep you awake and boost your mood.
The body's circadian rhythms are impacted by exposure to green/ blue light, which is a light scope that is also present in full-spectrum sunlight. The good bit is that the light produced by the bright light therapy glasses can be secluded and delivered at a lower intensity with equal effectiveness.
Light Boxes vs. Wearables and Glasses
Bright light therapy or light therapy has been around for years now. Historically, lightboxes were used to produce and deliver phototherapy. Originally, the light therapy devices were quite large, but they have become more portable with improvements in technology. Let's look at the light therapy box and light therapy glasses or wearables to better understand them.
1. Light box
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This bright white light box outputs at least 10,000 lux of blue light directed at a specified distance. Typically one is supposed to put it in front of the light box when you wake up for 30 minutes. There are several health benefits to these traditional lightboxes, but some drawbacks are also. One of the main drawbacks is that you will need to sit still, and the lightbox is very bright and intrusive by nature.
2. Light therapy glasses and wearables
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Light therapy glasses and wearables are small and portable, meaning you don't have to sit still like in the lightbox case. Also, since the wearables are worn close to the eyes, they are relatively dim than the standard lightbox.
When Should You Wear Light Therapy glasses?
Light therapy glasses should ideally be used during winter because people spend most time indoors, limiting exposure to sunlight. In such unavoidable circumstances, using light therapy in the early evening hours will be helpful. Fortunately, you can easily move around with light glasses.
While treating circadian-related or sleeping disorders, you need to ensure consistency with light therapy. The exposure time may vary from 30 minutes to 120 minutes, depending on what you are looking for. Most notably, follow the doctor's recommendation to avoid ineffectiveness or side effects on your eyes.
The guidelines for light glasses will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer since each wearable has slightly different visual properties. Generally, light therapy should be used first in the morning, ideally for around 20-30 minutes.
Sleep/Circadian Issues You Can Treat With Light Therapy
1. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder or winter depression arises seasonally when a lack of light leads to mood deterioration. In most cases, SAD is associated with increased sleeping, lack of ambition, social isolation, and changes in appetite.
Artificial bright light exposure in the nighttime can make it challenging to fall asleep. Therefore you should avoid it. However, using light therapy glasses in the morning will help realign the circadian rhythm and improve sleep.
3. Delayed sleep phase syndrome
Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a disease that most night owls experience. It is a condition that leads to difficulty walking and difficulty falling asleep. This condition is not associated with insomnia, but you can still be treated by using light therapy glasses.
4. Jet lag
Jet lag is caused by a rapid misalignment between your body's circadian rhythm and the patterns of light and darkness. A planned light therapy program can minimize the negative effects of jetlag.
Cautions and Side Effects
Phototherapy or light therapy is generally beneficial, but it should be discontinued if it is irritating or bothersome. Here are some of the negative aftereffects caused by using light therapy glasses.
Artificial light therapy may, in some cases, trigger migraines or headaches. You should try a lower light intensity and a prolonged period in such cases.
Using light therapy glasses at the wrong time may lead to difficulty sleeping. For instance, wearing glasses in the evening will make it hard to fall asleep or even wake up. Avoid this by following the instructions that come with the light glasses program.
Fatigue is another side effect caused by phototherapy, but this is very rare. Fatigue mostly has to do with the changes in the sleep-wake schedule. Following the instructions of the program should help to minimize this risk.
Light therapy requires to be utilized with caution for those people who have a history of bipolar disorder. There is a high risk that the light may cause hypomania.
In some cases, using light therapy may lead to irritability. If this happens, you should consider eradicating the use of light therapy glasses.
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