Can light therapy help with major depression?
How to Use Light Therapy to Sleep Better
Light therapy can be a helpful intervention for people suffering from sleep disorders as well as those who want to get a better night’s sleep. Light therapy can involve exposure to natural sunlight or the utilization of a special light box for a specified period each day. Talk to your doctor before beginning light therapy to sleep better.
Preparing for Light Therapy
Talk to your physician about light therapy.Many people experience sleep problems and it’s important to contact your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. Your doctor can rule out other possible causes of your insomnia. If your doctor isn't familiar with light therapy, ask for a referral to a sleep specialist.A medical professional can help you come up with a plan to treat your insomnia using light therapy.
- Your doctor will help you choose a light box that is the right intensity.
Purchase a light box.If you will be using a light therapy box instead of natural light, you will need to purchase the equipment. You can purchase lights for treatment online. It is important that you consult your doctor for suggestions on equipment before purchasing a light box. Light boxes can cost anywhere from 0 to 0, and sometimes they will even be covered by your insurance.
Make sure your light therapy box filters out harmful ultraviolet light.Light therapy boxes should be designed to filter out UV light which is harmful and can cause damage to skin and eyes. Purchase a light therapy box that emits minimal UV light. This information will be available from the manufacturer.
Talk to your doctor about the brightness level.Bright light boxes deliver between 2,500 and 10,000 lux illumination. The brightness will help determine how long you use the light box each day. Consult your doctor about how many lux your light box should deliver.
Be aware of side effects.Light therapy is a useful treatment but it can also cause side effects. Before starting light therapy, educate yourself about the side effects of this type of treatment. Some possible side effects can include eyestrain, headache, nausea, and skin dryness. Consult your doctor if you experience any of these side effects while undergoing light therapy.
Using Light Therapy
Aim for 30 to 120 minutes of exposure to bright light in the morning.A successful way of using light therapy to sleep better is to expose yourself to bright light as soon as you rise each morning. You should shoot for between a half an hour and two hours of light exposure each morning.
- The length of exposure time will differ depending on whether you use a light box or natural sunlight.
Go out into the sunlight upon waking.One of the most successful ways of using light therapy to sleep better is to expose yourself to bright sunlight immediately upon waking. This method requires no special equipment and can be achieved by simply stepping outside. Aim for thirty minutes of sunlight exposure first thing in the morning.
- Try going for an early morning walk to expose yourself to natural sunlight.
Use a light box upon waking.Talk with your doctor about purchasing a light box for use in light therapy. Each morning when you wake up use the light box for the amount of time your doctor has prescribed. You may find it helpful to use a light box of 10,000 lux for 45 minutes, as studies have shown this to be effective. A regimen of 20 minutes is also effective, but will result in a lesser treatment response.
- Don’t look directly at the light box as the bright light can cause damage to your eyes.
- Be consistent and stick to the plan developed by your doctor.
- For the therapy to be effective, you need to do it consistently and at the same time each day.
Establishing Good Sleep Hygiene
Stick to a sleep schedule.The first step in establishing good sleep hygiene is to make sure you are on a regular sleep schedule. Try to bed at the same time each night and wake at the same time each morning. Consistency will reinforce your sleep-wake cycle, helping you to sleep better.
- Light therapy should only be part of your treatment. For it to be effective, it's important to also maintain good sleep hygiene.
Make your bedroom dark and quiet.In order to get a good night’s sleep and for light therapy to be effective, you need to ensure that your bedroom is free from visual and auditory stimuli. Try hanging room darkening curtains and eliminating sounds such as television.
Avoid alcohol, coffee, and other stimulants four to six hours before bed.Limit your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and stimulants before bed as these can disrupt your sleep. Smoking before bed should also be avoided as should heavy meals.
Limit use of devices before bed.The blue light emitted from devices like tablets, laptops, smartphones, and television suppresses your body's production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you sleepy. This makes it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Stop using all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. If you use your phone as an alarm, set the alarm 30 minutes before you go to sleep and do not look at it again until the morning. You might also consider getting an alarm clock instead and making your bedroom a technology-free zone.
Exercise daily.Physical exercise is key to getting a good night’s sleep. Making sure you get at least thirty minutes of exercise each day will help you fall asleep quicker, stay asleep longer, and sleep deeper. Try to exercise earlier in the day, as physical activity too close to bedtime can cause some people to become too excited to sleep.
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual.Doing something relaxing before bed such as reading a book or taking a long, hot bath will help both your mind and body prepare for sleep. If you choose to read, try reading something unrelated to your work or daily life such as a novel.
Video: Light therapy: NO MORE INSOMNIA :Biological clock for SLEEP corrected
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