All about light therapy

All about light therapy

In autumn or winter, the decrease in brightness causes in some people, a decrease in vitality, stress or sleep disturbances. Many doctors then recommend a medically recognized natural therapy: light therapy which helps to compensate for the lack of light and keep your spirits up. To find out more, we sought advice from Xavier Carbonnel, head of the Solvital Health Center, specialist offering clear information and light therapy solutions.

What is light therapy?

Light therapy is a medically recognized natural therapy. It consists in exposing a subject to bright light to compensate for the lack of natural light which can be linked to seasonality (dark period) but also to the environment (work confined to the shelter of natural light like office work , in shopping malls, underground ...). Light therapy also allows to resynchronize the biological clock for people who work shifted or night shifts but also those who have or will undergo a jetlag (jet lag).

The main application of light therapy is for seasonal depression, can you tell us more?

Although the importance of light and its benefits have been known since antiquity, it was in the 1980s that, for the first time, Professor Norman Rosenthal discovered the link between seasonal lack of light and SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder) which we call in France TAS (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or more commonly seasonal depression. Following these discoveries, light therapy was recognized as the first-line treatment for seasonal depression and its attenuated form, the winter blues. Today light therapy is no longer content to intervene in the simple field of action of depression but opens up well to a multitude of applications.

What are these other applications?

As another application of light therapy, we can cite circadian rhythm disorders with in particular sleep disorders such as phase advance (person who falls asleep too early) and phase delay (person who falls asleep too late) . In this case, light therapy will allow to resynchronize the biological clock as nature would naturally do if we were still living completely outside under the influence of the sun's rays. Since the 2000s, light therapy has entered a new era of discovery with chronobiologists who have highlighted melanopsin ganglion cells. Unlike the cones and rods that allow us to see day and night, these non-visual photo-receptor cells allow a retransmission of the light influx, therefore of light therapy, to the brain and more exactly to the biological clock. This discovery goes beyond the simple fact of fighting against seasonal depression or certain sleep disorders: indeed these melanopsin cells activate non-visual functions such as memory, alertness, mood and cognition. As you will have understood, light therapy is today a vast project which suggests new discoveries.

What is the difference between the dawn simulator and the light therapy lamp?

The dawn simulator is not a light therapy device, it is important to clarify this because there is often confusion. The dawn simulation allows you to prepare for your awakening. The principle is simple, it imitates the sunrise in your bedroom and will wake you up gently as nature would do if you slept under the stars. Some models even offer to accompany this awakening in light by sounds of nature or relaxation but also by the diffusion of essential oils. These alarm clocks have known for a few years a real success and gradually replace our good old alarm clocks with a shrill ringing and sometimes let's say a little stressful. We can say that the dawn simulator is an excellent complement to light therapy but that it does not replace it.

What are your tips for choosing the light therapy device best suited to everyone's needs?

Before even choosing a light therapy lamp, it is important that the safety requirements are guaranteed, which is why it is important to check that your future light therapy lamp has the CE Medical standard. To do this, just check if the CE mark is followed by 4 digits, for example, for the French certification body, you will have the CE mark followed by the digits 0459. Then, you must choose a light therapy lamp that corresponds to lifestyle and how you use it. For a light therapy session in the morning at breakfast, it is preferable to take a large panel which will ensure better diffusion, this also allows for a family session. For those who wish to benefit from light therapy in the office, it is better to opt for a compact model that will not take up too much space and whose intensity can be moderated in order to start the day in the "light therapy" position and finish it with less bright light. To combine business with pleasure, don't neglect design. Although secondary, it is still more pleasant to have at home or at your office a product that you do not want to hide at all costs. On this last point, we must admit that the French Touch of the French brand Dayvia has taken a step ahead with products designed to integrate all living spaces.

What are the innovations in light therapy?

Among the novelties and especially the real trend of this beginning of 2015, it is the fact of practicing its light therapy sessions at the workplace. Light therapy is entering companies and it is a fundamental trend that we really saw coming in 2014 and which is constantly growing, we see the growing interest of companies on this subject. Today, devices such as the Slim Style light therapy lamp are ideally integrated into corporate workstations by allowing the light to be varied with a light therapy position enriched with blue wavelength for more energy and a possibility of vary the intensity for a softer light the rest of the day. Another novelty at the moment is light therapy spaces like the LuminoSpace. These light therapy devices are suitable for collective light therapy sessions, whether in the context of medical structures (Hospitals, Sleep Centers, Ehpad…), large companies (break rooms) but also for public places such as airports or stations. To find out more about light therapy and its applications, go to //