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In this article, we’ll look at why and how to use light therapy energy lamps — for winter blues, depression, low energy, low thyroid and SAD.
My experience with light therapy
If you think I’m crazy, I’m at peace with that. The truth is: I talk to my happy light. I say things like, “Hello, Happy Light” and, “I love you, Happy Light.” Light therapy, and energy lamps like the one I love, are used to treat seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder [SAD]), insomnia, jet lag and low-energy due to decreased exposure to sun.
Despite potential criticism from naysayers of talking to inanimate objects, the fact that I feel so happy in the midst of what would otherwise be the low-energy-winter-blues is evidence that something is working, quite well.
I use my light therapy energy lamp from whenever I wake up in the morning until my 16-year-old daughter comes in to borrow it at 7 am. She sits at her desk in front of it while she gets ready for school, until we leave at 7:35.
I’ll often take a second turn with mine around noon, or whenever I can squeeze it in before 2 pm (mimicking the sun’s last high point in the sky).
After witnessing the startling results, I promptly sent one as a gift to my closest friend across the country, who had also been visited by the darkness of November. And she quickly bought a second one for her husband and daughter.
If you suffer from any change in your energy level or mood in the fall/winter, I’m here to say that after thinking about buying one for over a year, I could not be happier with this purchase.
How I chose my energy lamp
I also researched (of course) which one to buy. Here’s the one I bought and why:
- It’s 10,000 Lux, UV blocked bright white light (the equivalent to being outside on a sunny day).
- Not LED! (This was an important criterion for me. Here’s why.)
- There’s a lower setting if you wish to start slow or mimic afternoon light.
- The angle of the light is adjustable, very handy.
- Provides fast results.
The science of light therapy energy lamps
Humans have biological rhythms, called circadian rhythms. Each interval lasts 24 hours. As we age, our rhythms can become confused, due to the use of artificial lights (including devices and LEDs), hormone imbalances, our propensity to ignore healthy sleep habits, the fact that we spend more time indoors than outdoors, and lack of sun during winter months, to name a few.
As one PubMed study states, “One line of research hypothesizes that the late dawn in winter results in a delayed circadian system and that morning light is an effective treatment to maintain circadian rhythms entrained to the solar day…” and, “…it is logical to hypothesize that alterations in this cycle could affect mood.” (source)
Studies show there to be no known side effects of this treatment, although eye strain and blurred vision have been an arguable (not yet established) symptom reported. However, light therapy should likely be avoided in patients with severe macular degeneration.
If you suffer from decreased energy and low mood in the winter, this light is a quick fix (of which the world provides few). Those of us with Hashimoto’s or hypothyroid really take a beating when the sun disappears each November. This light boosts our bodies by supporting hormone balance. I don’t feel as jazzy as I feel each summer, but I feel normal and good with a burst of immediate happy from using this lamp, a result I experienced from the very first time I used it! I also struggle with insomnia intermittently, and while I’m currently experimenting with about five remedies for this (ways to support my body and sleep), so I can’t be sure how much to attribute to the “happy light”, I have made good progress with this struggle, and I certainly can include the energy light among my other remedies as being helpful.