Days filled with sunshine are associated for most people with feeling good, kicking back, and having fun. This association has a biological explanation. Humans need regular exposure to bright light to help regulate mood and sleep cycles, and when individuals don’t get an adequate amount of sunlight, they can often sink into a depression or experience sleep difficulties such as insomnia. For those who can’t get out in the sunshine, light therapy may be the next best thing.
Light therapy involves the use of bright artificial light to help treat a range of illnesses including depression and sleep difficulty. One disorder in particular, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is often treated with the use of light therapy. As days get shorter and sunlight less plentiful, many people sink into the blues of SAD, a form of depression triggered by the changes in the season and the lack of light exposure associated with the winter months. For those suffering with SAD, light therapists recommend sitting for between 15 and 20 minutes everyday in front of a light box designed to supply them with bright light similar to the sun.
Adequate exposure to bright light is essential for maintaining a healthy balance within the body. Light effects the body’s internal clock known as circadian rhythm, which influences sleep cycles and hormone levels. Exposure to bright light can also stimulate neurotransmitter production in the body, and these chemical messengers are responsible for regulating mood and maintaining emotional health.