It is tempting to think that we can get all the necessary Vitamin D by switching on a lamp? New technology has arrived in the market known as a sun lamp, SAD lamp, or a light therapy box. It is a unique lamp that mimics outdoor sunlight. This therapy is mainly used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, which is a type of depression caused during winters or fall when there is no adequate sunlight.
One sits or works near a device called a light therapy box, or artificial sun lamp, during the therapy. This therapy is done to affect the brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep to relieve SAD symptoms. There is more than one benefit of artificial sun lamps, and here we will discuss them.
Sun Lamp for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
As discussed above, SAD is a disorder that begins and ends around the same time every year when there are only a few hours of sunlight. People living far north of the equator are more prone to this disorder than those living in sunnier climates. SAD can cause depression, feeling low all day, and suicidal thoughts in some cases. Oversleeping and weight gain are common signs of SAD.
Generally, most people start therapy in early fall when the sunlight’s hours are reduced. Treatments usually continue until the spring when outdoor, or natural light is sufficient to lift the mood and sustain high energy. A person suffering from the disorder may notice symptoms during a prolonged period of rainy weather in different seasons. It is advisable to consult a doctor before beginning any treatment.
What Happens During Light Therapy?
During the therapy session, the person sits or works near an artificial sun lamp. To get results, the light must enter the eyes indirectly. Merely exposing the skin to the light won’t do any good. During the therapy, it’s not advisable to look directly into the sun lamp, or it can cause damage to the eyes. That is why it’s essential to see a doctor and make sure you read the instructions for whatever device you buy.
Light therapy requires consistency and time. The results can be seen in a few weeks or months. One can set up the light anywhere on the desk, study table, home, or the office. This way, light therapy will be possible while reading, writing, watching TV, or working.
Sun Lamp for Depression
Light therapy can be used to treat some types of nonseasonal depression. It is also helpful in fighting postpartum depression and PMDD. The exposure to light restricts the chemical melatonin that might lift the mood. While we are not saying it is a full proof method of fighting depression, it can give you the energy to function effectively for the whole day.
Sun Lamp for Sleep Disorders
Sun lamps are also useful for treating some sleep-wake disturbance. Certain activities like jet lag, shifting of places, etc. can disturb your body’s sleeping schedule. When the schedule is disturbed, also called the circadian rhythm, it can cause fatigue and insomnia. Your ability to function also gets disturbed.
Taking light therapy can help to stabilize circadian rhythm and improve your sleep.
Sun Lamp for Dementia
Sun lamps may also prove beneficial to sleep disorders associated with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Not being able to sleep properly is a common symptom in people with dementia. This can lead to irritation, agitation, and even depression. Sun lamps may improve these symptoms.
Common Misconceptions about Sun Lamps
Some people think all the sunlamps are the same, and one can serve various purposes. It’s crucial to know that sun lamps for treating SAD or depression won’t be the same for treating some skin problems. Sun lamps used for SAD have a filter to prevent UV rays, and using the wrong type of sun lamp can cause severe eye damage. The sun lamp used for treating SAD won’t give you a tan or increase your Vitamin D levels.
How to Use a Sun Lamp?
If you’re using a Sun lamp for treating SAD, the light should enter the eyes indirectly. Please keep your eyes open but don’t look directly into it. According to some studies, morning is the best time to use a sun lamp. For treating SAD, an artificial sun lamp of 10,000 lux is recommended. Different intensities of sun lamps are available, and the time you need to spend in front of it depends on the intensity. Here’s how you can put a sun lamp to use:
- Place the sun lamp 16 to 24 inches away.
- Ensure an indirect contact to the eyes so that you do not accidentally look into the light.
- Try to get the therapy at the same time every day.
- Sit in front of a lamp as recommended by your doctor.
The Bottom Line
Consistent use of a sun lamp can serve many purposes, but there are certain health risks also. If you have sensitive skin or bipolar disorder, avoid using a sunlamp unnecessarily. We strongly recommend you to consult a doctor before starting the therapy and follow all the guidelines.