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Using Light Therapy and Air Ionization for Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD

Updated on October 28, 2012

Shake off those winter blues with light therapy

Seasonal affective disorder is more than just winter blues. It is a serious condition that affects quality of life for many people. If you think you have S.A.D., see your doctor about possible treatments. Light therapy and air ionization therapy are two treatments that have been proven effective for some people do not involve drugs at all. It's worth knowing about them and asking your doctor about them. If you have bi-polar disorder, be sure to ask your doctor about possible side effects of light therapy.

Light Therapy

Light therapy, or photo therapy, or heliotherapy operates under the simple idea that SAD is brought on by a deprivation of light during long winter nights. There are two ways to use light therapy to treat SAD. The first is to install an alarm clock that has a light that grows to simulate the dawn. This has been proven effective for some people. The one drawback is that it may also wake your partner when it starts to grow and get brighter.

The second way to use light therapy that has also been proven effective is to get a bright light designed for this purpose, such as the SunTouchPlus. This lamp simulates that strong rays of natural sun and triggers biological changes in your body.

Air Ionization Therapy

Another treatment that is proven effective is to receive high doses of negative ions in the morning. Again, this does can be given in the early morning while you sleep. Or it can be given soon after you wake up. With the SunTouchPlus, it is possible to use the light feature and the air ionization feature simultaneously, although I do not know that this is any more effective that using just one or the other.

Effective Treatment

These treatments are most effective when they are used properly. For most people the dose of light needs to be about 30 minutes long. Many lamps have a timer to aid in this. Turn it on as you read the morning paper and drink your morning coffee. You have to sit fairly close to the lamp and keep your eyes open, although you will not want to look directly at the light.

The same is true of the air ionization. The ions have to be concentrated, so you will want to remain in the same room as the ionizer. Some people complain about the smell of the negative ions, but others have likened it to a spring morning or the woods after it rains. Remember, if you prefer one over the other, you can use the therapy you like. This is not necessarily a case when more therapy or doubling up is better. It may be that one works better than the other.

Light Therapy and Negative Ions for Other Sleep Disorders

While light therapy and air ionization therapy is often used for symptomatic seasonal affective disorder, many people may find benefits from using it. A dose of light in morning can help your body maintain a natural rhythm that helps you sleep at night. Insomniacs should ask their doctors about it as an alternative to powerful drugs.

Other Alternative Treatments for Sleeplessness

There are other alternative for sleeplessness. First, cut out caffeine. I have heard insomniacs claim caffeine has no effect on them. Then, they drink a pot of coffee right before they go to bed. It is worth a try to cut it out. If you don't want to do away with caffeine completely, try drinking it only in the morning.

Other people have claimed that computer use at night causes sleeplessness. There is even a program that changes your color and light settings to prevent insomnia. Another free fix to try.

Finally, some people have said that early morning T.V. with talking heads (I mean that literally) can help wake you up. Conversely, avoid late night T.V. that show face up close. Read a book instead. If you are addicted to the Daily Show, watch it on Hulu the next day.


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  • carolinemd21 profile image

    Caroline Marie 

    7 years ago

    Great hub. Very interesting.


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