I’ve very recently started using a light box – the NatureBright Sun Bliss light box to be exact, which I posted about a week or so ago and thought it high-time I filled you in on how bright light therapy is going for me.
If you want to know more about light and dark therapies for bipolar disorder, a psychiatrist has written some excellent informative articles on the matter which you can read here.
Don’t think the matter of light should be restricted to people with bipolar or major depressive disorders, though! I think a large part of our health crisis today can be attributed to disrupted circadian rhythms, from mental illness to obesity, cancer and bad eating habits. I think everyone could benefit a little from reading Dr. Phelps’ (psychiatrist) articles and trying some dark or light therapy themselves.
Anyway, before getting my light box I had read that it’s advisable to start slow and build up to a full half-hour or so of 10,000 lux light over the course of 1-2 weeks. Ha! Super excited about my new toy and all the joy it was going to give me, I eagerly sat in front of the lamp for the full 30 minutes on day one. That was a mistake. My eyes felt sand-papery all day, I actually had to leave work early because I couldn’t look at my computer screen, and I felt like I had very mild hayfever. I went to bed early, deeply exhausted and unable to keep my eyes open after the assault I’d made on them.
Warily, on day two I commenced 10 minutes of sitting in front of my bright light while doing some reading. This was much more manageable and my eyes weren’t irritated like the day before.
So I spent the rest of the week increasing my bright light therapy sessions in five minute increments and this seemed to be a good rate to allow my eyes to adjust to handling the full 30 minute therapy.
Am I now bounding about full of spring energy and sunshine bliss? No, but it’s still very early days. What I have noticed is I’m more tired and ready for bed in the evenings, I guess because I’ve shifted my body clock forward slightly by turning my bright light on early in the morning. I’m sleeping sooooo much better though, and it feels natural and restful.
Yesterday I received new glasses with blue-blocking amber lenses, and I am so keen to see how these might improve my sleep and mood by blocking out blue light in the evening. Again, you can read more about that in Dr. Phelps’ article.
I will be continuing bright light therapy in the mornings in conjunction with dark therapy (wearing my amber glasses to block blue light) in the evening, and I’ll let you know how that affects my mood and energy soon!
One other thing I should mention about my experience with the Sun Bliss so far: the dawn simulator isn’t quite the beautiful wake-up tool it sounds. Although it does get brighter gradually over the course of 30 minutes, I find I wake up 10 minutes in feeling like someone’s shining a bright uncomfortable light into my room. I guess it’s just too small and the lights too powerful and directional to really simulate a lovely natural dawn. Although it’s much better than having a bright light suddenly flicked on or being jerked awake by a screaming alarm, don’t expect to wake up smiling like the ads!
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