- Are you always tired (especially in winter)?
- Do you suffer from insomnia or poor sleep?
- Do you have winter blues or seasonal depression?
- Or do you simply have low energy for no particular reason?
Because of the lack of sun exposure from late October to April, you might experience difficulties in adjusting your circadian rhythm (the internal biological clock). Let me show you how you can restore your natural circadian rhythm from home and feel energized and healthy again.
The real cause why you feel tired and unmotivated in winter
It has nothing to do with you but with light deficiency
Sunlight supports two important functions in the body. On the skin, it stimulates Vitamin D3 production and in your brain, it decreases melatonin release, the hormone that regulates your internal biological clock.
Did you notice how easy it is to wake up when the sun is already shining? Compared to gloomy autumn/winter days? The light presence decreases the melatonin production and signals the body to "wake up". You can imagine, that all the darkness keeps you in a "sleepy mood".
The solution: Blue light therapy
Used already in the U.K. and other Nordic countries, the blue light therapy a.k.a bright light therapy simulates the sunlight. The blue color is the only one that has enough energy to stimulate the sleep/wake cycle in your brain.
The reason why this instrument is called blue light is because it displays only this color with the specific wavelength between 400-495 nm. Because every single color on the spectrum has a unique electromagnetic radiation, the shorter the wavelength, the more energy it contains. The blue light is at the end of the visible spectrum and has the most energy.
Why do you need the blue light?
The blue light has the only wavelength intense enough to activate the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the circadian rhythm clock. Unfortunately, the normal lamps are not strong enough to give us the benefits of the blue light.
What are the light therapy lamp benefits?
Different scientific studies between 1980 and 2020 discovered that blue light therapy helps:
- motivate and energize the participants
- reduce seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- stops hyper heating and carbs craving
- reduces acne on the skin
- improve sleep, particularly in individuals with insomnia and bipolar disorder
How does the blue light therapy lamp work?
The first use of light therapy started in 1980. During a pilot study, scientists helped a patient suffering from winter depression and low mood by adding blue light therapy to her routine. In order to get the most benefits in a safe way, you need to follow these indications:
- 10-15 mins in the morning
- don't stare at the light, instead place it in your room facing the wall
- use a lamp with 10 000 lux intensity
The reason why the intensity is important is because of the specific 470-490 nm wavelength. It is the only one that can activate the photoreceptors connected to the SNC. If used properly, expect improvements after just 5 days.
Can it damage your eyes?
Yes, different scientific studies confirm that long exposure to the blue light can damage your eyes. More specifically, it can damage non-image-forming receptors. These non-image-forming (NIF) photoreceptors play a role in regulating the biological clock.
Should you use a blue light then? Yes, you can take advantage of the benefits if you follow precautions. Certain scientific studies suggest the following guidelines:
- no direct eye exposure, possibly the lamp facing a wall
- only max 15 mins a day
- stay updated with the new updates
Can the blue light affect your sleep?
Yes, the blue light can influence your sleeping patterns. This lamp can stop the production of melatonin and regulate the wake-sleep cycle. While this is a positive outcome when you wake up in the morning, doing it in the evening can have a negative effect. It can make you "too energized and too awake" at a moment in the day when your body is trying to get ready for sleep.
My advice is to not use it after 4 p.m. because it might make it difficult to fall asleep. It has the same effect as drinking too much coffee before bedtime.
Blue light therapy has been proven to work in different areas. It can help deal with winter depression and low mood. It can also help regulate the wake-sleep cycle for individuals that suffer from insomnia. Surprisingly, it can also help reduce acne. As long as you follow the safety guidelines, the blue light can be a beneficial tool.