Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Bright Light Therapy?
There are many types of Light Therapy and light is a treatment or valuable tool in many situations. For example, certain wavelengths of light have been found helpful in the treatment of eczema, acne and other skin conditions. Another therapeutic use of light is laser eye surgery, used to improve vision. These, however, are very different from the light used by New Light Solutions.
Bright Light Therapy (LT) uses a visible light to bring about natural changes in a person's brain and hormonal chemistry. Improvements can result that are as good as or better than medications and other available treatments. In addition, Bright Light Therapy has a much lower risk of side effects for most people.
How Does Light Therapy Work?
As mentioned earlier, LT uses visible light to bring about natural changes in a person's brain and hormonal chemistry. Rather than introduce a foreign substance into your system to bring about these changes, Light Therapy triggers your own body to do a better job of meeting those needs.
When a person has a Bright Light Therapy treatment, their body responds in various ways. Although we know some of the changes LT brings about, like many medications and other treatments, there are many things about Light Therapy we are not totally sure about. However, by observing the effects LT has on various conditions through studying many people in controlled scientific studies, we have learned how to use Bright Light Therapy to help people with many problems and needs.
We know that Light Therapy stops the release of melatonin into the bloodstream. This makes LT a highly effective tool for managing various sleep problems in many people. This is accomplished without the problems often associated with sleeping medications such as morning grogginess, reduced effectiveness over time and dependence.
With other uses for Light Therapy, such as depression and hormone rebalancing, we have a long way to go to learn exactly what changes take place in our brains and our bodies with Bright Light Therapy. What we do know is that Light Therapy is as effective as, and possibly more effective than, medications we all see and hear advertised on TV and in magazines.
What Is Bright Light Therapy Treatment Like?
How the light is used varies greatly depending on the condition being targeted. In addition, everyone is unique and how a person is affected by the light treatment is no exception. Therefore, general guidelines can be applied but the greatest chance for success with LT comes with having guidance to fine-tune your use.
The treatment is provided by a special light that provides the brightness necessary while filtering out the UV rays. Most Bright Light Therapy equipment provides a full spectrum light using flourescent technology. However, LED lights, which can be smaller and use less energy to produce equivalent light, are becoming more common.
The light is very bright and takes some getting used to for many people. Different models of lights vary in brightness resulting in different dosages. How close you are to the light also affects the dose you receive. Because of the many variables, a person may need to be in front of the light anywhere from five minutes to over an hour per day. Most people start with about a half hour and make adjustments.
How Bright Is the Light?
Brightness and intensity of light is measured using a "lux" scale. A typical home living room is about 200 lux. An office with overhead flourescent lights is 300 to 500 lux. When measuring light for full spectrum Bright Light Therapy, the standard beginning "dose" is 10,000 lux for 30 minutes each day. Different light equipment provides this dose at varying distances. The light is not bright enough to cause damage to healthy eyes. Full midday sunshine on a clear day can be 100,000 lux or more. The 10,000 lux level is about as bright as being outside at sunrise.
Do I Have To Look Directly at the Light?
No. Actually, looking directly at the light is likely to be quite uncomfortable in the same way looking directly at the sun is and would not be more helpful. The best position for the light is at about a 30 to 45 degree angle to the side. If you picture a large clock on the floor with you at the center of the clock face and looking toward the 12, the light would be either between the 1 and 2 or between the 10 and 11.
It is important that your eyes not be closed or the light not be blocked from your eyes including by sunglasses. It is fine to read or write, watch TV or use a computer, play cards, knit, eat, play the piano, etc. The light's effects are cumulative meaning if you step away from the light you do not have to start the dose over. For instance, after 10 minutes in front of the light, if you leave to do something away from the light, when you return you would need only 20 more minutes to achieve a 30 minute session.
What Can I Expect from New Light Solutions and Your Services?
Our role in this process can take several forms. Most people may have heard of Bright Light Therapy but have no access to a light. New Light Solutions rents lights to give people the opportunity to find out if Light Therapy is a right fit. If a person chooses, the rental light - or a different one with different features - can be purchased from New Light Solutions. We offer ongoing support for both the light as well as fine-tuning the use of the light included in the light's purchase price.
If a person has access to a light but wants assistance in its use, we offer that service; again on an ongoing basis as needed.
What Is "Full Spectrum" and Is That Better Than Blue Light?
The light we see around us is actually composed of all the colors of the rainbow. Natural sunlight contains these colors in specific proportions. Full Spectrum lights use flourescent technology to very closely replicate these proportions.
Research has found the blue, and to a lesser extent green, portions of the spectrum to be most important to Light Therapy's effectiveness. Using that information, some of the light manufacturers developed lights with all or part of their light from that portion of the spectrum. Although generally interchangeable in effectiveness, preliminary research has shown blue light to be more effective than full spectrum in certain uses.
Personal preference plays a major role in deciding which light is the best fit for you. Some find the full spectrum more comfortable while others prefer the blue. Most people, however, find either light acceptable.
Is Bright Light Therapy for Everyone?
Unfortunately, no. Certain people should not use Bright Light Therapy and others can use it with close monitoring. People with eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and similar eye problems should consult their eye specialist and will likely be advised to use an alternate treatment. Hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and bipolar disorder (manic depression) are conditions that can usually be accommodated but require close monitoring. Also, certain medications, such as antibiotics, make a person more sensitive to light and it is important to adjust for this.
Are There Side Effects for Light Therapy?
Although side effects are much less significant for most people than with most medications for the same conditions, there are some things anyone beginning Light Therapy should be aware of. Most side effects are rather mild annoyances and fade as a person gets used to the light. It is not uncommon for a person to experience headaches, dizziness or queasiness when first beginning with the light. If these continue or become intense, the light should be stopped and we should be contacted. At times, some people report feeling racy and over-energized. This is a sign of too long exposure and usually lasts less than a half hour after shutting off the light. Also, be sure to read the previous question; 'Is Bright Light Therapy for Everyone?'.
I Get Migraines. Does That Mean I Cannot Use Bright Light Therapy?
Bright Light Therapy, as well as another type of light therapy, are actually both very effective tools to reduce or eliminate migraines without medication for most people who suffer from migraines. Of course, nobody would want to be near such a very bright light during a migraine. This tool is used preventatively resulting in significantly fewer migraines for most people.
Of course, some people who get migraines will not tolerate or benefit from the light just as with some people who do not get migraines.
If Light Therapy Is So Great, Why Haven't I Heard of It Before?
Light Therapy is not controlled by a patent like many medications are so you will not hear and learn about it from commercials and magazine ads. In fact, LT has been found to be as effective as SSRI anti-depressant medications (eg: Prozac) in treating depressions, as helpful as sleep medications in treating most insomnias, etc. - when published studies have been analysed. In addition, due to The File Drawer Effect (drug companies' tendency to publish favorable studies' results and relegating the unfavorable studies to the file drawer) the comparitive benefits of LT are likely to be found to be even more positive.
We have included this Frequently Asked Questions page to begin to answer some of your questions and, as stated earlier, our mission is to inform people about Bright Light Therapy. Contact us with your questions - we love hearing from you and you will help us add to our FAQ information.