Light Therapy FAQs
EXACTLY HOW LIGHT-DEPRIVED HAVE WE BECOME?
Dr. Dan Kripke, a prominent San Diego-based researcher, set out to answer the question of how light-deprived we have become. Kripke and his research team randomly selected 150 middle-aged, middle-class adults and had them wear special wrist devices that would record their light exposure 24 hours a day. The study began in August, when the weather in San Diego can only be described as idyllic. Despite the great weather, only half the adults in the study group spent 58 minutes outside per day. The people who received the least light were exposed to direct sunlight for only 13 minutes a day. The average exposure for 12 hours of the day was less than 100 lux (lux is a measurement of light intensity). By comparison, sunlight outdoors on a sunny day can be up to 100,000 lux – 1,000 times as much as in a dimly lit home or office.
ARE YOU LIGHT DEPRIVED?
Most of us are light deprived and we are paying for it with our health. We spend the majority of our day working indoors with little or no bright light and then rush home to spend more time indoors to read, watch television, use the computer, listen to music, or exercise. Even when we do get out in the sun we wear dark sunglasses to protect us from harmful UV light, but in doing so, we block the beneficial rays from the sun.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE LIGHT DEPRIVED?
The following are the common signs that you are not getting enough bright light in the beneficial wavelengths:
- Depressed Mood
- Low Energy
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Carbohydrate Cravings
- Social Withdrawal
- Reduced Libido
- Trouble Sleeping
WHAT IS BRIGHT LIGHT THERAPY?
Bright light therapy involves the regular (usually daily) exposure to a bright light source. Treatments typically involve an artificial light source of accepted therapeutic intensity, with exposure duration of a set period and distance from the light source.
HOW DOES BRIGHT LIGHT THERAPY WORK?
Research indicates that individuals who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) are affected by light, which plays a major role in the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body's pineal gland. This is a pea-sized gland located just above the middle of the brain. During the day, melatonin levels are barely detectable in individuals who don't suffer from S.A.D.
When light hits your eye, the retina transmits impulses to your body clock, located in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus regulates sleeping, eating, body temperature and libido.
Clinical research shows that the wavelengths of light emitted by The Litebook® may assist in regulating the body's melatonin levels. It also boosts a feel-good neurotransmitter (serotonin), which makes you feel content and energized.
IS BRIGHT LIGHT THERAPY SAFE?
Bright light therapy has been extensively researched at leading institutions worldwide for over 25 years. Most people experience no side effects; however, some individuals may experience minor side effects (headaches, eye strain, occasional nausea) that tend to disappear after the first few days of exposure.
Bright light therapy has proven safe and highly effective when used under the supervision of a trained clinician or physician. It is recommended that individuals considering light therapy consult with their doctor regarding any history of eye disease, as well as the appropriateness of light therapy. The Litebook® has undergone extensive testing for eye safety by a leading consulting medical physicist.
WHAT IS LUX AND WHY IS WAVELENGTH IMPORTANT?
LUX is the measurement of intensity of a light source. Traditional thinking has held that an individual must receive bright light therapy of an intensity of >2500 LUX in order to gain the benefits of improved mood, increased energy, and better sleep. However, recent research has shown that it may be more important to receive light therapy of optimal wavelengths in order to combat the symptoms of winter blues and S.A.D. as well as of many sleep-related and circadian rhythm disorders. The Litebook® emits a sufficient intensity of light peaking in the critical wavelength range (with no UV) but also emits some light in other wavelengths to produce a natural white light and increase eye safety.
WHAT IS SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (S.A.D.)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a medically recognized sub-type of major depression. It is characterized by abnormal mood episodes that occur at the same time of year on a regular basis. SAD is more common in the winter months, though Summer SAD has also been diagnosed. Winter Blues is the common name for sub-syndromal SAD. A typical person with SAD may experience some of the following: excessive tiredness, weight gain, social withdrawal, depressed mood, irritability, difficulty concentrating, carbohydrate cravings, and decreased libido (sex drive).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINTER BLUES AND S.A.D.?
SAD is a form of seasonal depression that commonly occurs during autumn and winter, though summer SAD also occurs. The Winter Blues is a milder form that affects up to 25% of people. Though the symptoms are fewer and less severe, the Winter Blues often cause a decrease in energy and enthusiasm, abnormal tiredness, a desire to sleep more than usual, and a craving for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.
WHAT IS JET LAG?
Jet lag, or dysrhythmia, occurs when the body clock is not synchronized with an air traveler's new time zone, causing a disruption of more than 50 physiological and psychological rhythms. Studies show that jet lag worsens with age, particularly after 50. Until recently, jet lag was dismissed as merely an unpleasant side effect of air travel. New research suggests that it also causes memory loss, shrinkage of parts of the brain, and negative side effects on blood pressure.
HOW DOES THE HUMAN BODY CLOCK WORK?
The human body clock is a complex internal mechanism that serves to regulate our body's functions over time. It is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a tiny cluster of nerve cells in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. This body clock helps regulate breathing and heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, hormone production, and other vital bodily functions.
HOW DO I SHIFT MY BODY CLOCK?
Our body clock responds to a variety of cues in our environment, the strongest of which is light. A pulse of sufficiently bright light at the appropriate time will move (or phase shift) our body clock forward (phase advance) or back (phase delay). As importantly, a period of appropriately timed light-avoidance i.e. total darkness will enhance the phase shift forward or back.
WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS BENEFIT FROM LIGHT THERAPY?
Research has shown light therapy may have benefits for various circadian rhythm sleep disorders, Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), Bulimia Nervosa, Alzheimer's Disease (through regulation of sleep patterns), Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Parkinson’s, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), adult ADHD and non-seasonal Major Depression. Research into these conditions is ongoing at major institutions worldwide. Remember that The Litebook Company will be your source for breaking news on this research. Click here to learn more.
CAN CHILDREN BENEFIT FROM LIGHT THERAPY?
The issues of light deprivation can affect all age groups. Teenagers and the elderly can also benefit from light therapy to help regulate their body clock which tends to shift forward or backward during those periods in our lifecycle. Click here to learn more.
DOES THE LITEBOOK® GIVE ME VITAMIN D?
No. The visible range of light emitted by The Litebook® does not produce vitamin D in the body. UV light is needed for vitamin D production.
IS LIGHT THERAPY COVERED BY MY INSURANCE OR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER?
Light therapy is recommended by healthcare professionals for combating SAD and other body-clock disruptions in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Europe, South America and increasingly in Asia and Australia. Patients in the U.S. and some other countries are often able to obtain a prescription for light therapy from their physician, and increasingly, receive reimbursement from their insurance companies for the purchase of a light therapy device. (Consult your insurance carrier for possible coverage.)
To maximize your chances for coverage of a Litebook purchase, you should:
- Request a prescription from your physician or health care provider.
- Download the Litebook Insurance Form and ask your physician or health care provider to complete the form or get a similar letter from your physician. Click here for insurance form.
- Provide a copy of your purchase receipt.