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Light therapy: Does a daylight lamp help against winter depression?

light therapy
Does it help against the blues?

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When the days get shorter, many people feel listless and tired. You can find out how light therapy can help here.

Light therapy: what is behind it?

Light therapy is a procedure that is particularly useful in winter depression and general sleep problems is applied. The effectiveness in these cases has been scientifically proven. Nevertheless, the use of special light sources should be considered part of a holistic treatment can be seen, which is agreed in advance with the doctor.

Background of the light therapy is the increasing production of the sleep hormone melatonin in winter. In many people, this causes sluggishness, tiredness, sadness or simply a lack of drive. You need one for the treatment daylight lampwhich compensates for the lack of natural daylight.

Light therapy: areas of application

  • Depression (especially winter depression)
  • migraine
  • Burnout
  • sleep disorders
  • eating disorder

How light therapy works

  • Light therapy can be used for various diseases. She has made a name for herself in the treatment of so-called winter depression. This is a seasonal depression that only occurs due to the lack of daylight in the winter months. In this case, light therapy can help to give people more drive again.
  • Light therapy, also called light shower, has direct influence on our biological clock. When the days start to get shorter in autumn or people have an irregular day and night rhythm due to shift work, our body releases more melatonin.
  • The sleep hormone causes increased tiredness and can lead to depression, winter depression, especially in winter. Melatonin is also closely linked to serotonin. The happiness hormone is converted directly into melatonin by the body. Since serotonin ignites a positive effect on our mood, the conversion leads to increased tiredness and a lower mood.
  • Through the light therapy, for the special light therapy devices are used, affected people get one again higher serotonin levels and better balance the internal clock.
  • The therapy works under the condition that the light is primarily absorbed through the retina of the eye. This gets it into the area of ​​the brain that is responsible for the circadian rhythm. Since our skin can react very sensitively to UV rays, light therapy devices have a UV filter.

Light therapy: implementation

  • For effective therapy you need light therapy deviceswith an intensity of at least 2500 lux. A normal light bulb achieves values ​​from 300 to 800 lux. The light shower is characterized by a diffuse light with a wide spectrum, which is similar to the usual sunlight.
  • Place the device between half a meter and a meter away from your eyes. While you should plan up to two hours per treatment with a smaller device, larger light surfaces can have a positive effect on your health after just half an hour.
  • The best time for application is in the morning hours until about 8 o’clock, because the body releases more melatonin during this time and we want to start the day with energy. You do not need to look directly at the light with your eyes throughout the application. A few seconds per minute is enough.
  • You ask yourself: How long do I have to carry out the treatment? As a rule, the therapy is carried out for about a week. It is sufficient to use the light source in the morning. An additional application in the evening can optionally be added if you notice that you have little drive in the evening and are always tired by 8 p.m. in autumn or winter.
  • After about two to five days you should be able to notice positive effects. If this is not the case, you can increase the treatment time or the light intensity. After about seven to ten days, the breakdown of melatonin and serotonin will adjust back to the initial value.

Are there any risks with light therapy?

  • Light therapy devices should not involve UV rays or infrared light. Therefore, your skin will not tan as a result of the treatment. The treatment also has no effect on the vitamin D balance, as this is influenced by UV-B rays. The harmful UV-A rays that increase the risk of skin cancer are also missing.
  • Anyone who already suffers from skin diseases or eye diseases, such as glaucoma, should speak to the doctor before starting light therapy. In addition, taking certain medications, such as St. John’s wort, can increase the sensitivity of the skin. Incidentally, the health insurance companies do not cover the costs for the special lights, unless it is a treatment for specific skin problems.
  • In principle, however, no elementary side effects are known from treatment with light therapy. Headaches or irritated skin or eyes may occasionally occur, but these will subside quickly. You should initially refrain from using it in the evening, as this can irritate the day-night rhythm and thus make it difficult to fall asleep later.

You can get good tips for winter blues here. We have also put together an interesting article for people who tend to get in a bad mood quickly. We also have other tips on how to increase serotonin.

If you would like to talk to others about listlessness in winter and effective measures to combat it, take a look at our BRIGITTE community past.

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