shine a light: bright lights

It used to be considered as junk science. Pseudo-science and old folk tales mixed with superstition. But, it turns our Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and almost measurable. A particular problem in the north where winter daylight is problematic. There has been a rash of products aimed to resolving some of the dilemmas under the general heading of bright light therapy. Hard to know why this grip on consciousness took so long. In the 1840′s oil paints began to be mass made in tubes instead of the artist mixing his pigments in cans, which permitted an explosion of outdoor work in open air, such as the French impressionists and later on, Van Gogh. Previously, the painter sketched or drew outside and then did the execution indoors, missing that immediate sensorial experience that became so intrinsic to their art.

Image: Read More: ---The study was small, involving only 89 patients ages 60 and older, but the results were remarkable. Compared with a placebo, light therapy improved mood just as well as conventional antidepressant medications, said Dr. Ritsaert Lieverse, the paper’s lead author and a psychiatrist at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.---

…The scientists found that SAD was connected to an imbalance in the body’s  circadian rhythms,  a type of rhythm, an internal body clock which is principally responsible for the timing of sleep, hormone production, and even our body temperature:

In 1984 these pioneering scientists discovered that exposure to bright white light is very effective at treating seasonal affective disorder. For many years doctors had relegated light therapy to the periphery of credible science. It wasn’t until 2001 that researchers from NIH, Thomas Jefferson Medical University and Apollo Health fully understood how exposure to specialised bright light, stimulates the production of brain chemicals to relieve the symptoms associated with seasonal depression. Read More:

Read More: ---With full spectrum Daylight™ technology, your eyes will still be fresh at the end of the day! No headaches, no red-eyes, working under Daylight™ becomes as relaxing and natural as a walk in the park.---

The commercial products on the market, and in particular the Daylight lamps we sell can be termed like light therapy lamps but cannot be clinically be classified as true therapy and for good reason. A serious lamp would have to be 55 watts or about 10,000 lux and the Daylight full spectrum light limps in at 20 watts. Not enough to arrive at a therapy effect for those with more acute needs, but of some benefit for non-sufferers. The lighting is better than anything a traditional lamp can produce, and its easier on the eyes; and the value of Daylight compared to a competitor like Ott is significant, and we are not convinced that the 27 watt version of Ott is a better buy than the Daylight.


Early research studies used “full-spectrum” bulbs producing bright light similar in color composition to outdoor daylight, in contrast to the color of ordinary fluorescent or incandescent light. The technology is evolving rapidly, however, and manufacturers now offer effective systems using cool-white, triphosphor and bi-axial lamps. What appears to be critical is that the level of light produced match that of light outdoors shortly after sunrise or before sunset. Light intensity is a critical “dosing” dimension of the therapy: systems deliver varying amounts of light, and people vary in their response to light levels.

The time of day of light therapy is another important factor. Many people with winter depression respond best of all to treatment first thing upon awakening. Some, however, do better with evening light. It is necessary to determine the optimum time of day for each individual….

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Tuner. 1838. Ovid banished from Rome

Is increased exposure to normal room light therapeutic, without the use of special apparatus?

Some very light-sensitive people, living and working in dim environments, may feel improvement with increased exposure to normal room light. Research studies show, however, that most sufferers of SAD and winter doldrums require exposure to light levels much higher than ordinary indoor lamps and ceiling fixtures provide. Such therapeutic levels are five to twenty times higher (as measured in lux or foot-candles by a light meter) than typical indoor illumination in the home or office. Read More:

Light therapy can treat more than just winter depression, though that’s the main use. Here’s why: the amount of light reaching your eyeball from interior lighting is far less than the amount from the real thing. So unless you are outside much of the day in the winter, you are relying on electric light for your photons (in summer, there is so much light, most people get enough, even if they are indoors during their work hours). The following graph shows you just how much less light you receive, indoors versus outdoors (Lux is a standard unit of light flow):

Brightness Values:
Candle light at 20 cm 10-15 Lux
Street light 10-20 Lux
Normal living room lighting 100 Lux
Office fluorescent light 300-500 Lux
Halogen lamp 750 Lux
Sunlight, 1 hour before sunset 1000 Lux
Daylight, cloudy sky 5000 Lux
Daylight, clear sky 10,000 Lux
Bright sunlight > 20,000 Lux
Bottom line: the outdoors on a sunny day is 500- 1,000 times brighter than office or room lighting. Read More:

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