Morning sunlight is more than just a cheerful way to start your day. If you suffer from poor sleep, insomnia or grogginess, getting exposure to light in the mornings can help reboot your body clock.
However, not everybody has access to natural sunlight as part of their regular morning routine. In this case, light therapy can help by artificially simulating sunlight to give you the same positive boost.
Let’s take a closer look at light therapy and how you can soak up the benefits of light in your daily routine.
What is light therapy?
Light therapy helps balance your circadian rhythm by mimicking natural light through a light box or screen. Typically, you sit beside this box for about 20-40 minutes per day when you first wake up. Some boxes can be used with a timer to gradually wake you up in the mornings as well.
Generally speaking, you can maximize the benefits of a light box by using it:
- When you first wake up
- For about 20-40 minutes
- At 2,500 to 10,000 lux of brightness
- At a distance of 16-24 inches from your face
- Not looking directly at the light
- Not using sunglasses or visors
Remember that you can spend your light therapy time as you wish. For example, you might read a book, catch up on work or simply enjoy a cup of coffee.
Luckily, most people will respond to light therapy within a few days. If you don’t notice changes, ask your doctor about tweaking the light brightness or session time with your light box.
How does light therapy work?
The idea is to realign your body clock so that you wake up and fall asleep with the usual patterns of the sun. With light therapy, you’ll tend to feel more tired as the sun goes down, helping you get more powerful sleep at night.
What are the benefits of light therapy?
To start, light therapy is a great option because it’s safe and non-invasive. You can start and stop light therapy at any time. It’s also helpful for a variety of sleep and mood disorders, including insomnia, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), depression and more.
Overall, light therapy can help realign your body clock, balance key hormones such as serotonin, promote regular sleep and boost your alertness during the day.
What about natural sunlight?
Natural sunlight is perhaps the best form of light therapy. While light boxes run at about 10,000 lux of brightness, a sunny day reaches about 50,000 lux.
However, it’s not always possible to create a regular routine with natural sunlight depending on the season, the weather, your work schedule, your energy level and more. That's why light boxes can be a good alternative to build a routine of morning light.
That said, if you’re able to take a morning walk, go out for a morning coffee, or even sit by a window in the morning, it may have a positive impact on your sleep.
4 ways to incorporate light therapy into your daily routine
1. Take a stroll every morning
Getting into a morning exercise routine can work wonders for soaking up natural light. Even just a 20-minute stroll around the block before you start your day can help balance your body clock.
2. Read the news during your light box session
Having a morning activity to complete during your light box session can help you stay consistent. For example, reading the news, listening to the radio or checking your email are great ways to set up your morning routine for success.
3. Get a light box timer to wake up to an artificial sunrise
If you really want to enhance your sleep routine, use a light box timer to start your day with a gradual “sunrise” of light in your bedroom. This will help you realign your body clock to wake up and go to sleep at your ideal time.
4. Whatever routine you choose, be consistent about it
Design your morning however you wish, just be consistent about it. Light therapy works best with a routine, so that you can make the most of reprogramming your body clock.
Brighten up your mornings with Polysleep
Trying out light therapy may help reset your body clock and boost your quality of sleep. Don’t forget: light therapy is just the start of improving your sleep habits. To enhance your new light therapy routine, you should also make sure that your bedroom is 100% comfortable. Buy a cozy new mattress or pillow from Polysleep to enjoy restful nights – and brighten up your mornings.
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