Can Light Therapy Help Insomnia?

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Can Light Therapy Help Insomnia?

Insomnia is a widespread sleep disorder that can lead to poor quality of sleep, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and/or an overwhelming sense of fatigue. This chronic condition may be brought on by stress, emotional distress, an irregular schedule for sleeping, and certain medications.

Light therapy typically works by resetting a person’s circadian rhythm – the cycle of physical and mental functions that occur over 24 hours. Scientists still don’t fully understand why these cycles take place, but they’re crucial for most people’s wellbeing.

Circadian rhythms are important in controlling many physiological processes, such as when to sleep or eat. Furthermore, they support a healthy immune system and energy levels.

Circadian rhythms are affected by environmental elements like the amount of light a person gets from the sun and moon’s dark cycle. If these factors are too strong or short, your body’s natural clock may be disrupted, leading to various issues.

These issues may include delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), a disorder where people tend to fall asleep later at night and wake up earlier in the morning. Without regularity in one’s schedule, it becomes difficult to stay productive at work or school.

Light therapy may also be beneficial for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a disorder that causes depression during the fall and winter months due to inadequate exposure of sunlight.

To effectively treat SAD, light therapy boxes must be powerful enough to reset a person’s circadian rhythm but not so intense that it harms the eyes or induces sleepiness. These devices emit between 2,500 and 10,000 lumens per square meter of illumination – equivalent to about one full day’s worth of bright sunlight on cloudy days.

Once the device is set up, someone sits or stands near it to receive its illumination. The brightness can range from bright to dim depending on the strength of the lightbox and their reaction to it.

Light stimulates the brain to release melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Additionally, it releases serotonin–another chemical which helps people relax and feel happier–for added benefit.

Studies have suggested that light therapy may benefit individuals suffering from chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders, such as jet lag. After several sessions of light therapy, people often start falling asleep faster and feel more rested.

Some researchers say people can start seeing results within a few weeks of starting light therapy, but it is best to wait until you feel completely confident with the treatment before making a commitment. If someone has severe symptoms, speaking with a doctor before beginning light therapy is advised in order to ensure it’s the appropriate course of action for them.

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