Frequently Asked Questions About Full-Spectrum Light Therapy

In recent years, several technological advancements have made our daily lives more comfortable. From communication to education to gathering information, technology has made these tasks more convenient and reliable.

But apart from these, technology has also been helpful in terms of medical treatment. For example, technology paved the way for the development of light therapy for seasonal affective disorder.

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The seasonal affective disorder consists of episodes of depression and/or restlessness that occur regularly during particular times of the year. Winter depression is the most prevalent form of SAD. It exhibits repeated episodes of specific symptoms that occur in the fall or winter. The symptoms include:

  • Oversleeping 
  • Craving for energy-rich foods
  • Weight Gain
  • Social withdrawal

If left untreated, this condition can get complicated. It can lead to serious problems, including school or work problems, substance abuse, self-harm, and other mental disorders. Also, it can generally remit during the upcoming spring or summer.

The specific cause for SAD is unknown. But the reduction of sunlight exposure can end up triggering SAD. Seasonal changes can also disrupt the circadian rhythm and the internal body clock. It can then trigger winter depression. The significant drop in both the serotonin and melatonin levels can drop significantly and lead to depression. 

Some are more likely to develop SAD than others. Those who have major depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop SAD. Having relatives with SAD or another form of depression also increases the risk of acquiring SAD. Finally, living far from the equator can increase the risk for SAD due to a significant drop in sunlight exposure.

People who experience SAD need to get as much natural light exposure as possible, especially early in the morning. However, this may not apply to some areas due to the darker winter months. Thus, the use of light therapy coupled with other primary treatments for SAD can significantly improve your condition.

What is full-spectrum light therapy?

Full-spectrum light therapy is primarily used for treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Also known as “winter depression,” it occurs typically during this period due to the lack of sunlight. The therapy makes use of light therapy boxes with full-spectrum lighting, which mimics the wavelengths of natural daylight. Exposure to this light has been said to work well with treating SAD and other types of depression.

How do you use full-spectrum light therapy?

Full-spectrum light therapy is a simple and straightforward process. During full-spectrum light therapy, you simply have to sit or stay near a light therapy box. This box will emit an artificial bright light with filtered UV rays, which duplicates the natural daylight.

Do full spectrum lights really work?

Yes, it does but do note that full-spectrum light is not a suitable treatment option for everyone. Some people may experience successful results with full-spectrum light therapy in addressing SAD and other types of depression. However, therapists would often combine this treatment with other methods to achieve the best results.

What is the best light therapy lamp for SAD?

The best light therapy lamp for SAD should have at least 10,000-lux light box intensity. It should be able to filter out harmful UV rays to avoid the risk of eye and skin damage. Just a reminder that the best way to use the light therapy lamp is at least 16 to 24 inches distance from the face.

Does light therapy really work for wrinkles?

Various types of light therapy address numerous concerns from aging, depression, and other disorders. A specific type of light therapy called red light therapy (RLT) is used to solve skin conditions, including wrinkles. As its primary purpose is for anti-aging, RLT uses red light with a low wavelength.

Is full spectrum light dangerous?

Aside from reported minor side effects like headaches, full-spectrum lights are generally considered safe. Most wavelengths from full spectrum lights are not harmful because they can filter out dangerous UV light.

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How long does it take for light therapy to work?

Many people who use light therapy usually respond to the treatment within 3 to 5 days. However, some may take longer. The improvements may come in the following week for those who didn’t see or experience any changes within the first week. But still, it can take longer than that.

Do full spectrum light bulbs help with vitamin D?

Yes. Some full spectrum light bulbs can help with vitamin D synthesis, particularly those with ultraviolet B (UVB). Full-spectrum light bulbs that generate UVB of around 290 and 315 nm helps our skin produce vitamin D.

What color is full-spectrum light?

Full-spectrum lights appear blue or white-colored and simulate natural light to the human eye. These high color-spectrum sources have a CRI of around 80 and 90.

Is LED Light Full Spectrum?

Not all LED lights are full spectrum; it depends on the manufacturer. However, most LED manufacturers produce LEDs with full-spectrum lights in various color temperatures.

Is 5000k full-spectrum?

The typical full-spectrum light has a color temperature of 6500k to match the natural daylight color. However, 5000k also meets the standard of full-spectrum lights as it can filter out yellow light from ordinary incandescent light. Some people prefer 5000k full-spectrum lights to the higher 6500k.

Are SAD lights bad for your eyes?

No. The recommended light therapy boxes for SAD are usually safe for the eyes. These lightboxes can filter out harmful UV rays that are dangerous for the eye and the skin.

Can you wear glasses during light therapy?

While there is no reason you cannot wear glass during light therapy, it is not recommended for SAD treatment. Wearing glasses or contact lenses may decrease light therapy treatment’s effectiveness in achieving optimal results.

Is red light therapy a hoax?

At present, there is still little research around RLT as an effective treatment process. Although several studies show its potential applications, there is still a need for extensive clinical studies to determine conclusive evidence of its effectiveness.

Can full spectrum lights cause skin cancer?

No. The full-spectrum lights design makes it so that it does not expose cancer-causing UV rays directly to the skin. Thus, you can use full-spectrum lights with confidence for an extended time.

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In summary, full-spectrum light therapy is a  primary treatment used to control seasonal affective disorder, including winter depression. It mimics natural daylight using full-lighting therapy boxes that produce blue or white-colored light.

Light therapy is a proven approach to treating SAD that works for most people. It works in conjunction with other primary treatments. The recommendation is to use at least 10,000-lux light box intensity that can filter out harmful UV rays. 

Generally considered safe, although full-spectrum light therapy can cause minor side effects like headaches. Recommended light therapy boxes for SAD filter out damaging UV rays and are safe for your eyes. It is also safe for your skin, so you can rest easy while getting light therapy. 

On average, people respond to the treatment within 3 to 5 days, but it may take longer for some. To maximize the effectiveness of the treatment, it is not advisable to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses. In addition to its effects on SAD, full-spectrum light therapy can also aid in vitamin D’s natural production. 

It is natural to feel sadness at times occasionally. However, if this feeling lasts long during a particular season, it is advisable to seek medical assistance. This is crucial, especially if you experience drastic changes in sleep patterns, dependence on substances, and self-harm thoughts. 

Unfortunately, the exposure to this condition can intensify with the increase in exposure to light from our gadget screens and the pandemic’s seclusion. If this is so, then full-spectrum light therapy may just be the solution to getting back your colors besides the blues.

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