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Sleep Education


American Academy of Sleep Medicine 
  

 
 

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Types of Bright Light Therapy

Currently, products that are used for light therapy fit into four basic groups:

Light Box

This is the most common tool that is used in light therapy. The box houses several tubes that produce extremely bright light. It sits on top of a table or desk and plugs into the wall.

During a treatment session, you have to keep within a certain distance of the box. Usually, you will be about 18 to 24 inches away from it. It does not require you to look directly into the light. Instead, you simply face in the direction of the box.

You are able to do other activities during the session. Ideally, you would work on papers or read something that is in the area being lit up. This will allow the light to be received by your eyes. Your body takes in this information and uses it to regulate the rhythms that control when you sleep and when you wake.

Earlier models of light boxes put out 2,500 to 5,000 lux of light. Lux is a measure of how much light falls on your eyes. These sessions could take two or three hours. Now, many boxes produce 10,000 lux of light. This allows sessions to take as little as 15 to 30 minutes.

More than one session may be needed each day. It depends upon your body, your need, and the strength of light being used. The key is to use the light at the right time of day and for the right amount of time. This is based upon the sleep disorder you want to correct.

New models are also safer, protecting you from harmful UV rays. Some models are now focusing on a specific bandwidth of light. Light boxes can be purchased in a variety of makes and models. Some are now being made much smaller so they are easier to take with you. General prices range from $200 - $500 per light box.

Desk Lamps

This serves the same purpose as a light box, but it is made to look like a normal lamp. It blends in better when used in an office setting.

Light Visor

This is a light source that is worn on your head and hangs over your eyes. It looks much like a tennis visor. It is made so that you can move around during sessions. The strength of visor lights also varies from 3,000 to 10,000 lux.

Dawn Simulator

These lights gradually make a dark room brighter over a set period of time. This is meant to mimic the sunrise. Some people may find that this helps them wake up in the morning. Models may also slowly dim to copy a sunset.

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