The Importance of Natural Lighting in Your Life
Many scientific studies have shown how poor light can pose serious threat to one’s health. These studies have also shown that the best light for maintaining health should contain the full wavelength spectrum that is found in natural sunlight.
Full Spectrum Lighting and Why It Works
Full Spectrum Lighting mimics natural sunlight unlike any product out there in the market. We at HealthLighting.com are the premier suppliers of full spectrum lighting and light therapy products and have been in this business since its inception some 30 years ago. We offer a variety of products that have different “strengths” or CRI (Color Rendering Indexes) that you can use for different lifestyle and health applications, including seasonal affective disorder.
Importance of Natural Sunlight
All of nature and life on this planet adapts and is nourished by light from the sun and sky. Today, many people if not most, do not get enough needed sunlight because they need to spend time indoors such as the office and many people also do not understand the importance of natural lighting and its benefits.
Many studies have shown that poor lighting has even contributed to a range of health disorders, particularly seasonal affective disorder. Such disturbances with one’s circadian rhythm (the body’s inner clock) can lead to health problems such as depression and sleep disorders. Your circadian rhythm controls the timing of sleep, hormone production, body temperature and other biological functions. Seasonal affective disorder especially affects people who live in far northern climates, where natural lighting is scarce during the winter months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a specific type of major depression, which reoccurs at specific times of the year. The most common pattern is the onset of major depression in the fall (September through November) and abating of the symptoms in late winter to early spring (March through May). The frequency of Seasonal Affective Disorder seems to vary with geographic location. It may approach 10% of the general population in northern New England, 5% of the population in the Baltimore/Washington area, and less the 2% of the population of Southern California or Florida.
The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include change in appetite or weight, sleep problems, lack of energy, diminished sex drive, body aches or pains, memory loss, inability to make decisions, problems concentrating, low self-esteem, lack of interest in or enjoyment of activities, suicidal thoughts.
As in the case of major depression, the diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder is a clinical one, based on the presence of specific symptoms. To meet the criteria for a seasonal relationship, there should be at least three episodes of mood disturbance in three separate seasons, at least two of which are consecutive. There should be no association between the disturbance and situation stresses, such as being unemployed with each winter.
The Mechanics of Light Therapy
Photoreceptors convert light into electrical impulses as light enters your eyes. These electrical impulses or photoreceptors are made up of millions of light and color sensitive cells. As the electrical impulses travel to the optic nerve to the brain, these impulses send a message which the hypothalamus gland reads to send yet another chemical message called neurotransmitters to regulate the automatic functions of the body – such as body temperature, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, sexual function, moods, immune system and circadian rhythm, just to name a few. When your body receives true full spectrum lighting (which contains all wavelengths) – your body and body functions are more naturally regulated and health is better maintained.
Health Applications of Light Therapy
Light therapy is effective for relief of migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), insomnia & other sleep disorders, seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.), cold sores, attention deficit disorder(ADD/ADHD), stress reduction & relaxation, chronic fatigue & ME. Light therapy can also aid in pain reduction and management, and treatment of acne, wound healing and other medical applications.
Application of Light Therapy to Seasonal Affective Disorder
The most successful treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder involve identifying how the change in daylight shifts the person's daily circadian rhythms, especially in their sleep cycle. Most people with Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms show changes in their sleep/wake patterns and melatonin levels. Bright natural light is known to be a powerful regulator of melatonin and the sleep/wake cycle. Seasonal Affective Disorder and "Winter Blues" sufferers tend to show two common patterns in their sleep phase: Delayed or Advanced.
The most common device used for bright light therapy is a fluorescent light therapy box, which produces a light intensity of 2,500 to 10,000 lux at a comfortable distance (1-2'). Light therapy box intensity ratings are always at a given distance. Fewer headaches and eyestrain are associated with using balanced full spectrum light.
The light therapy box is placed in front of the user at the recommended distance for the desired intensity. One should be directly in front of the unit as the light shines into the user's eyes. The eyes need be open, and sunglasses should not be worn. Some may be instructed to look at the light therapy box briefly at regular intervals. The light therapy box intensity of 10,000 lux is much brighter than normal indoor light which is usually 300-500 lux, but not as bright as summer sunlight which can be as bright as 100,000 lux.