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Use Light Therapy to Eliminate Depression and Banish Insomnia

Updated on August 17, 2012

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a crippling disorder that can strip all the joy out of the winter holidays. Up to six percent of the U.S. population suffers from SAD, and sufferers often struggle with the condition for years before figuring out what’s plaguing them.

Fortunately, the root cause of SAD is a lack of sunlight and this can be easily treated with exposure to light from a light therapy lamp or light box.

Light Therapy Can Erase Insomnia

A lack of sunlight is also related to insomnia. Many insomniacs struggle to fall asleep at night because their bodies are deprived of the natural sunrise-sunset cues that have governed human sleep patterns since before recorded history. Insomniacs can benefit from the use of green light therapy at least as much as SAD sufferers.

Why is sunlight exposure so powerfully connected to mood and the ability to fall asleep at night? Sunlight is intimately related to the production of a lot of different hormones, many of which are related to mood and feelings of alertness or sleepiness.

If you do not get enough natural sunlight each day or enough light from a light therapy lamp, you are at risk of disrupting your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Green Light vs Blue Light

Green light waves are better than blue light waves. Blue light is helpful for SAD and insomnia sufferers, but because it has a relatively short wavelength, it can be damaging to the eyes. Short term exposure probably won’t cause you any significant problems, but over long periods of time there is a good chance that you will increase your risk of developing cataracts or other eye issues.

Green light SAD lamps are not so easy to find…yet. The market is still catching up to the research, but blue light lamps can still be used effectively in the meantime.

How Long to Sit Under a SAD Lamp?

How much time should you spend exposing yourself to light therapy each day? If you are just starting out with light therapy, 30 minutes a day of uninterrupted exposure in the morning is a good way to start.

Because everybody responds to light therapy differently, you will have to test and see whether 30 minutes a day is long enough for you or not. If it is not, you can easily take a light therapy lamp with you to work (many people do) and use it during the early part of your workday.

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