Woman improving her mood with light therapy.

How to Improve Your Mood Using Light Therapy

DTC Thrasio

- Circadian Optics Brand Team

Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed (the figurative kind)? I know I have and whenever I do, it kind of makes me a catalyst for crankiness the rest of the day. It’s the kind of funk that is so impossibly hard to shake and seems to just come out of nowhere. I did a little research on mood management and actually found a bright solution! So, prepare to do away with your “cranky pants” as I introduce you to the mood-boosting wonders of Light Therapy!

The Source of Sunlight

Every human being needs sunlight for survival and the means to live a happy, healthy life. By exposing ourselves to sunlight, our bodies produce a variety of vitamins and hormones such as melatonin and serotonin that directly affect our emotions and energy levels. Every time we wake up in the morning, it’s the sun’s rays that quite literally help us rise and shine. When the sun goes down at the end of the day, our bodies sense the lack of light and slowly begin to settle, enabling us to fall asleep.

Now, if we do not obtain enough sunlight during the day, it can begin to affect our moods. Melatonin and serotonin are very powerful agents when it comes to crankiness. If our mental disposition depends on them, what do we do when our sunlight cycles get off track? We can tap into the practice of Light Therapy, which provides the brightness of the sun… without the sun!

The Concept of Light Therapy

Light Therapy is the practice of exposing yourself to artificial daylight to make up for the sunlight you may not be getting enough of. It is most often used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and certain other mood-altering conditions. The concept is performed through the use of a Light Therapy Lamp, a device that simulates brightness like the sun. It’s a very easy and effective way to ensure you get those revitalizing rays in a compact size. Here’s all you need to know on how to use Light Therapy:

  1. Simply place the lamp on your desk, counter, table, or anywhere nearby.
  2. Turn the lamp on and adjust it to your preferred brightness level.
  3. Bask in the beautiful light for 15-60 minutes (15 minutes is recommended at the beginning and in instances where the light has a high intensity).

Essentially, if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, light therapy can guide you back to the right side. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a light therapy lamp and actual sunlight. It’s merely absorbing the same type of light that generates your mood-boosting hormones. 

Should You Try Light Therapy to Improve Your Mood?

There are a number of reasons to give Light Therapy its moment in the sun. See if any of the following factors relate to you:

  • You’re looking for a mood management treatment that is safe and has few side effects.
  • It is recommended by your doctor for seasonal affective disorder or another condition.
  • To increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medicine or mental health counseling.
  • You’re trying to get on a lower dose of antidepressant medication.

It should also be noted that light therapy may not be for everyone. Use caution when deciding whether to try it or not. Here are some quick tips and thoughts to stay aware of:

  • Talk to your doctor about using light therapy to improve mood.
  • Do you have a condition that causes your skin to be sensitive to light?
  • Do you take medications that could increase your sensitivity to light?
  • Do you have an eye condition that could worsen from too much light exposure?

Look for a Light Therapy Lamp that uses as little UV light as possible.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the features and options available for Light Therapy Lamps in order to choose the one that’s right for you.

How to Use Light Therapy to Improve Your Mood? 

To get the most out of Light Therapy, there are three key elements that must be considered:

  • Intensity: A Light Therapy Lamp’s intensity is determined in lux, which measures the amount of light you receive. When dealing with SAD, the recommended light you should be exposed to is 10,000-lux at a distance of 16 to 24 inches from your face.
  • Duration: When using a 10,000-lux lamp, the average daily usage should be between 20 and 30 minutes. If the lamp has a lower intensity, then it may require a longer duration of usage. 
  • Timing: The best time to use Light Therapy is when you first wake up in the morning, but check with your doctor to ensure you put together a lamp schedule that works best for you.

In Closing

Staying in a healthy, positive mood can really do wonders for your body. If you feel like you’ve been wearing cranky pants a bit more than usual, speak to a medical professional to see if light therapy would be a good answer. And be sure to remember the following:

  • Sunlight is the key source for providing people with the nutrients needed to keep their mood and energy properly calibrated. Be on the lookout during winter months when the sun sets earlier than usual.
  • Any shifts in your mood could be a direct result of not getting enough light during the day. Stay aware of how you feel mentally as your day progresses.
  • The light produced by a Light Therapy Lamp mimics natural sunlight and is a great source for improving your mood