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