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Three Key Elements to Light Therapy

Light therapy is most effective when you have the right combination of three key elements: duration, timing and light intensity.

Duration. When you first begin light therapy, you may want to start with shorter duration of use. Your doctor can also recommend a treatment schedule for you; generally, you begin with shorter blocks of time, usually 15 minutes. You will gradually increase your light therapy by five minutes until you reach at least 30 minutes per day. You can use the light box for daily sessions ranging from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on your need.

Timing. For most people, light therapy is most effective if used in the morning, after you first wake, rather than during the evening. Light therapy at night could disrupt your sleep pattern. Timing has been research extensively to determine the most appropriate time for therapy to be effective. According to researchers Michael and Jiuan  Su Terman, the earlier the better in using your light box. Unfortunately for some, the best times tend to be much earlier than is convenient. According to their studies, the response rate to light therapy can double, from forty to eight percent, if treatments are shifted early enough, say from 8:00 AM to 6:00 AM. In addition, using light therapy early can also shift sleep schedules making it easier to fall asleep at night.

Intensity. The intensity of the light box is recorded in Lux. Lux is the measure of the amount of light you receive at a specific distance from a light source. Light boxes generally produce between 2,500 Lux to 10,000 Lux. In contrast, the lighting in an average living room in the evening is less than 400 Lux, while a bright sunny day may register 100,000 Lux. The intensity of your light box may also determine how far you sit from it and the length of time you need to use it. Our 10,000 Lux light box usually requires a 30 minute session, while a 2,500 Lux light box may require a 2 hour session.

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