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Understanding why light therapy works

light-therapyWhen you are suffering from the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it may be difficult to believe that sitting next to a light, for light therapy, will help you feel better through the fall and winter. It is important to understand what light therapy, which aims to do the same for you as sitting next to a sunny window in the summer, does for your body.

Does Light Therapy Affect your mood?

It is widely believed that light therapy affects your mood by altering the levels of chemicals and hormones that are made in part of your brain. This happens when spending time near the bright light affects the back of your eye, which in turn sends nerve signals to your brain.

Many researchers believe that the winter, which brings changes of decreased light and increased darkness, affect the body’s circadian rhythm, which then causes biochemical changes in the brain, possibly leading to depression. Light therapy is safe and easy, and will help you get through the winter blues.

Those suffering the symptoms of SAD generally spend anywhere from 30 minutes up to three hours in light therapy each morning, tricking your body into believing there is more hours of daylight. Your closeness to your light during therapy will depend on the intensity of the light used in your light therapy, with bulbs generally ranging from 2500 lux to 10,000 lux.

For many people, you will see an improvement from your symptoms of SAD after only a few days of light therapy. It is hard to dispute the energy and positive mood that comes from being near the sun when we are outside in the summer time, in the natural light. Light therapy aims to bring the same type of mood enhancement to those who are suffering during the darkest days of the year.