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Bright Light Therapy

Research bright light therapy and fatigue

If you know anything of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), you’re aware that light can influence our mental health. SAD Sufferers can become depressed in the winter months, that time of year when there is less light to be had.

Yet a dramatic emigration to equatorial climes need not be an imminent need; research has some good news.

Sufferers have been shown to benefit from Bright Light Therapy. Exposure to very strong bright light can compensate for the darkness of the winter period and help the mood

And the really great news is that Bright Light Therapy has been shown to improve cancer-related fatigue (CRF) too. To top it off, it doesn't cost a fortune and you can do it yourself at home.

Why does it help? 

Light seems to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. One theory is that when we receive cancer treatment, there’s less opportunity to be venturing outside, so our light exposure decreases.

The light box emits 10,000 lux of light. In comparison, a room is lit by around 200 lux, while on a sunny day, a walker is exposed to 10,000 to 50,000.

The Process

In one trial, cancer survivors used a lightbox for 30 minutes every morning after waking. It was placed in their clear vision, around 18 inches from their head.

After 4 weeks none of the participants were clinically fatigued. This was still the case 3 weeks after the study ended. 

Of course, the best remedy is a leisurely walk on a sunny day, but if that’s not possible, 30 minutes of the Litebook seems to have done the trick in this study.

You can get an original Litebook, though at the princely sum of £99 you might want to experiment with a cheaper version. The Lifemax at over half the price has some fantastic reviews.

Word of Warning: Some medication makes you more sensitive to light. Always check with your GP before using a Lightbox.

To read some research abstracts on the topic, find a CRF study here and the meta-analysis of light therapy here

As you'll see, the participant size of the CRF study is pretty small, while the meta-analysis suggests that much more research needs to occur - hopefully we'll see some more studies in the future!

Have you tried Bright Light Therapy? Drop a few words below to share your experiences.

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Heather (not verified)

Thanks, Im going to try this for the Lyme fatigue which is really getting to me at the moment. Might check out the cheaper version though! Thanks for the tip xx


Let us know how it goes please! x

Jill Gordon (not verified)

This sounds like a great idea for me because I constantly fight fatigue.I took a nap today and someone who called me said you’re always sleeping and that’s not really the case. I’m a cancer survivor but right now I’m dealing with a venomous recluse spider bite that has flattened me.I do deal with fatigue maybe because I’m missing part of my small intestine and have digestive problems.Whatever the cause I can use all the help I can get.One thing I have learned since cancer is to get at me own pace and if anyone has a problem with it it’s their problem not mine.


Ouch! Sorry to hear about the spider bite! If you do try bright light therapy, please let us know as would be great to hear x

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