« People’s mood is such a fragile thing that a word or an intonation can turn everything upside down …
The wonder is that, at the end of the day, by listening to the concerns of others, I had almost completely freed myself from the worry. I had become joyful, almost constantly. And without wanting to, without thinking about it. It helped me naturally, but it also helped others.»
Jacques Lusseyran, “Et la lumière fut” (And there was light), ed. Folio.
Hello, young Padawan
In this gloomy, gray, and humid week, I had to offer you a little thing to cheer you up if you have, like many Padawans, low morale when the luminosity decrease or when the weather is awful. There was no better time to talk about it, in those moments when we went from sequins bikini to lined mittens in just a week.
Today it will not be a question of DVDs, muffins, and good books, but of a practical trick that will help you concretely to regain joy, smile, sleep, better digestion, and the libido of your twenties. Just that.
Here we are, Let me present you the beast: the light therapy lamp.
I can already see you rolling your eyes and say: “What the hell !?”, lol. Light therapy consists of exposing yourself to a lamp that reproduces natural sunlight, and its benefits against seasonal depression are recognized by the highest health authority.
Discovered in 1903 by the Danish doctor Ryberg Finsen, who received the Nobel Prize in medicine for his research on the effect of light radiation on certain diseases including tuberculosis, it has been forgotten after the discovery of penicillin and vaccination. It was forgotten until 1984 when American doctors used it in the treatment of seasonal depression. In France, the French High Authority of Health (HAS) recognizes the benefits of light therapy for seasonal depression and its recurrences in a report published in 2007. Since then, many studies have corroborated the results of Dr. Finsen’s research.
How does it work?
It is a solar light spectrum but without ultraviolet (UV), which can be harmful to the skin and cornea. The effect of light therapy is to advance or delay the natural body clock, depending on the time of the exposure. Typically, using light therapy early in the day tends to advance the natural body clock, while using it late on the evening or at night delays it.
In September, the days get significantly shorter, the brightness drops then rises again to reach a satisfactory luminosity level in April – until then, I am not teaching you anything. Melatonin is a hormone normally secreted in the evening, a few hours before falling asleep. However, the most sensitive to seasonal depression people would secrete more melatonin during the day, hence the sad mood, digestive problems, low libido, and a lot more. Light therapy would therefore be useful to restore more adequate hormonal secretion, but not only.
Thus, subjects with circadian rhythm disturbances, clinically or on long jet-lagged trips may also find utility in light therapy lamps.
Patients prone to insomnia have also found better sleep, thanks to a daily morning session.
For night work, light therapy is used at the time that corresponds to the start of the night shift. A second exposure to light is recommended around 1 am (time of the “drained feeling” period) and at the end of the night work, the person will avoid the morning light in order to sleep better during the day.
As for my experience, I am not prone to seasonal depression but I use this lamp for facilitating the secretion of hormones at the right times of the day, which facilitates good digestion, and thus strengthening my immune defenses. During jet-lag, I also like to use it for at least 2 hours, when I get off the plane if I land for example in the morning (and where I come from it is nighttime, so as to synchronize my day-night cycle to the country where I am, ed), so I am not subject to jet-lag, especially thanks to this, but also (and above all) thanks to all of that.
How to use it?
The need may vary depending on personal sensitivity to the change of season, and the brightness of the area you live in. Basically, in Europe for example, people might need it from September to March.
I like to work with it in the morning from October to February, only on days when the weather is terrible, one hour or two, that is more than enough for me to keep my immune system on top. But it’s up to you to see what will suit you, and for the need that you have …
The best is to place it from 10 to 20 inches away from you, depending on the lamp (I refer you to the manual of the lamp, ed). The lamp should be raised, for example using a dictionary so that the top of the lamp is slightly above the eye line. And why not place it behind your computer screen, if the configuration of your workstation allows it. Do not stare at the light of the device, indeed, the eyes just need to catch bright light indirectly.
Using it in the morning, during breakfast if it’s long enough and if you can stand the bright light when you wake up, or while you’re getting ready, or at the office, or in the subway (Nah, I’m kidding, lol).
The minimum is 20-30 minutes, the ideal is an hour or two, especially during the period from late October to late January, for people prone to seasonal depression. But it can also depend on the power of the device. For example, you should be exposed for at least 30 minutes with a lamp that emits 10,000 lux, and 60 minutes if it emits 5,000 lux. The further away you are from the device, the longer the exposure should be …
Which light therapy lamp to use?
For that, I refer you to your research, but here are one or two tips:
It is recommended to have a lamp with an intensity between 2,500 and 10,000 lux to be effective. The color temperature of light is typically 4,000 K.
Price: At the time, I paid for mine, a Philips HF3419/01, around 60 dollars, 6 years ago … But don’t forget that there is always second-hand markets where you can have one for a few bucks…
Tips: Reproducing natural daylight, it is an excellent lighting source to put some make-up on, but also for photographers: I use it several times a week for professional purposes, with or without a yellow or an aluminum filter, for example.
Contraindications: Be careful, it’s like everything in life, before putting a protocol in place, whatever it is, you need to ask your doctor. Indeed, people with eye problems (AMD, cataracts, recent eye surgery …), people under photosensitizing treatment, certain antidepressants, certain psychotropic drugs, meds against malaria, those with a disease potentially attacking the eyes such as diabetes, herpes… are normally contraindicated for light therapy.
There you have it; I hope this little article has been useful to help you to keep a good mood in this cloudy and rainy period, if so, your faithful servant will be delighted, as usual.
I refer you to my article here which talks about anti-spleen tips, or here, where we talk about self-knowledge, or here where you will get a little kick-ass to help you regain your smile, or finally, in the “well-being” section of my blog, where you will find many articles helping you to better understand your body, your physiology, your psychology, and to help you to have an unfailing good mood.
The search bar (bellow, on the right) also allows you to type in a keyword that will guide you in what you are looking for. If, for example, you type “fall”, you will find articles gathering good advice to face the luminosity decrease and the seasonal depression, but also great recipes for this time of the year. Finally, as regards the recipes, in the “eat” section, you will find an index of recipes by categories and by the month of publication, knowing that here in this blog, we cook exclusively seasonally, so you can click on the recipes of the corresponding month. People often ask me where to find this or that, but we have a great professional here (I can give you her contact details if you need it, ed) who did a crazy job for us so this was the opportunity to pay homage to her. ✌🏻
National Library of medicine
Manual of my Philips lamp in 🇫🇷 or 🇬🇧