There is no discounting the healing power of light and how it can help with pain. Exposure to artificial light or light therapy is used to treat certain disorders such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), jet lag, sleep disorders, and even dementia. It is also used in treating skin conditions such as psoriasis and skin cancer and is also effective as an anti-aging and skin rejuvenating procedure. Aside from treating psychological and facial conditions, it also works to relieve chronic pain. In fact, red and near infrared light have been proven to reduce and alleviate joint pain and arthritis.
Light therapy has been used for hundreds of years and is considered safe and effective in relieving symptoms of several conditions. The technology is even utilized by NASA in treating cancer. There are several medical uses of light therapy, it can address certain skin conditions, retinal conditions, and it can also affect sleep and mood-related disorders.
Techniques used in administering light therapy varies. There’s photodynamic therapy that targets diseased cells with non-toxic and light-sensitive compounds. For instance, blue light treatment is used to address actinic keratosis, a scaly skin condition caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). Lightbox therapy is another technique. Unlike photodynamic therapy that targets specific areas, patients enter a lightbox which emits specific wavelengths of light from blue to green spectrum. This technique is often used by people who want to regulate their sleep because light affects the body’s melatonin production.
To know more about how a controlled exposure to light can help our health, this article will explore three different benefits of regular light therapy. We’ll also look at how it improves our overall health by affecting different parts of our body. So what are the benefits of light therapy?
1. Light therapy can help your mood
Think of the changing seasons and notice how it affects your mood. Summertime is light and bright, people go outside a lot to play and have fun. This season is an active one, where people are always on the go looking for something to do. Fall sort of marks the time to slow down and catch your breath, get some rest and relax at the calming breeze that autumn brings. And when winter comes, moods start to change. The clouds are usually overcast, it’s raining often, and you are constantly kept inside because of the weather. You may not notice it but the seasons greatly affect your mood, but more importantly, it’s the light that plays a big role in the shifting of our feelings.
During winter, a lot of people experience depression, fatigue, restlessness, and even irritability. It’s a common condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, and luckily, white light is useful in alleviating this case. Colored light therapy has a lot of healing properties. It helps uplift our feelings and also heals our mind, body, and soul. Light has the ability to bridge the gap between our spirit and body, creating a balance of energy that we need to feel happy.
Light is like an essential nutrient, our body needs it to function well. Underexposure to natural light may cause problems in the long run, but fortunately, science has allowed us to get artificial light treatments that could supplement our body with the energy we need.
2. Light therapy can improve your sleep cycle
People who suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep deprivation, or restless legs syndrome can benefit greatly from light therapy. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is six to nine hours of per day. During sleep, the body goes through different sleep stages, starting from NREM (non rapid eye movement) and eventually moving to REM (rapid eye movement). Two factors that drive a healthy sleep cycle are your body clock and your homeostat or sleep monitor. The body clock or circadian rhythm drives the 24-hour rhythms of our body functions, and the homeostat tracks how long we have been awake and builds a sleep pressure the longer we are up, inducing the body to get some sleep. During sleep, the pressure dissipates and eventually induces the body to wake. When these two sleep factors get disrupted, you may encounter sleep disorders.
Light has the ability to synchronize the body clock and reset the body depending on how the body adapts to the new light and dark cycle. Consider those who are flying to a new time zone, initially their body would get confused at the amount of light it receives but eventually, the body will adapt. This makes lightbox therapy useful for jet lag cases. Exposure to light at the correct time will help the body adapt to the local time much faster.
3. Red light therapy can reduce chronic pain
Light’s ability to affect our psychological state also affects the way we perceive pain, making it useful in regulating pain response. Pain has several dimensions. It has a sensory, effective, and cognitive aspect to it, making the patient’s emotional state vital in the way he perceives pain.
Red light therapy, or low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) has been used for years in aiding pain relief. In this treatment, laser light in specific wavelengths is applied to speed up wound healing, reduce pain in rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome. The red light, because of its wavelength, works to improve the functioning of mitochondria in the body, enhancing cellular respiration and eventually the overall cell function. This makes red light effective in reducing joint stiffness, improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and it also improves collagen elasticity.
Treatment can be done in several ways. Some clinics offer a tanning bed style light therapy machine. You can also do it at home using a commercial red light therapy kit. Some kits are made for the face, and some are for specific parts of the body like the back or chest. If you are to buy a red light therapy kit, make sure to communicate properly what kind of condition you want to address.