Since August the weather has been very bad around here, a lot of grey days without sun. This wasn’t good for my mood and since I didn’t have time for a holiday in the sun, I had to look at some ways to relieve the symptoms.
Blue light therapy is the prevalent treatment recommended by doctors for those suffering from Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD). I thought I’d give that a go and bought myself a Philips Golite Blu.
How does light therapy work?
Light therapy, sometimes called phototherapy or heliotherapy, is a treatment that is used for a number of conditions:
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Sleep disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Postpartum depression
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs as a result of changes in light through the year. Those with the condition often find that they become depressed, lack energy or sleep more than usual. A SAD therapy light provides the light that is lacking during the winter months.
Research has shown that the depression associated with SAD can be a result of decreased levels of serotonin. Light, such as that provided in blue light therapy, stimulates the production of serotonin. This returns serotonin levels to normal, which relieves depression and lifts your mood.
Sleep disorders often happen when a hormone called melatonin is out of balance. Release of melatonin, a sleep regulator, slows when light is present and increases in darkness. Blue light therapy helps the body to reset the melatonin cycle. This enables you to fall asleep faster, sleep easier and awake feeling refreshed.
Acne occurs as a result of bacteria on the skin. Research has shown that some of the light found in sunlight activates a specific compound in this bacteria, which results in the death of the bacteria. Light therapy boxes mimic sunlight, thus providing the same effect. The result is fewer breakouts and a clearer, blemish-free complexion.
A search of blue light therapy devices revealed that there are a number on the market today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. After doing some research and reading reviews I decided to go for the Philips Golite Blu, the most popular blue light therapy device.
Things to look for when shopping for light therapy boxes
Not all light therapy boxes are created equal. Many of us fall into the trap of buying the most expensive expecting it to be the best. However, price doesn’t always translate to quality. When shopping for a light therapy device, keep these things in mind:
- Type of light
- The settings
What type of light?
After browsing just a few bright light therapy devices, you will find that many have different types of light at differing strengths. The type of light can have an effect on the effectiveness of the therapy as well as the length of time necessary for it to provide relief from the depression of seasonal affective disorder.
Current research indicates that low intensity blue light at 470 nm is twice as effective as other lights and strengths. The Philips Golite Blu uses this type of light.
The settings: Is it made to work for my needs?
With the Philips Golite Blu , you can choose the intensity of the light. If you are new to using blue light therapy it may be best to start at a lower intensity and work your way up. In my case, the high intensity setting hurts my eyes, so I use the medium intensity.
The device doubles as an alarm. This is a nice feature as it can replace your old alarm clock and be easily at hand ready to use when you wake up in the mornings. It also has a timer so you can pick how long you want it to run without having to worry about turning it off after each session. 15 to 30 minutes is a good duration to fight SAD symptoms.
Usability: How much trouble is it to use?
The Philips Golite is easy to use without a lot of fuss. Just turn it on while you’re eating breakfast or checking email at your desk. The good thing is that you can use it while doing something else, like reading because you’re not supposed to look directly at the light (very bad for your eyes), but the light is supposed to shine at the side of your face.
Portability: Can I take it with me?
The small size of the Philips Golite LED light therapy device makes it easy to carry it along wherever you go (it’s got a chargeable battery). At 7x7x7 inches, it easily fits in your laptop case or suitcase. A lightweight 3.5 pounds, it won’t weigh you down either.
Durability: Will it stand up to use over time?
The Philips Golite is made to last. Light is provided with LEDs. Unlike traditional lights, which require changing on a fairly regular basis, LEDs are made to work for long periods of time. The manufacturer indicates that it is durable enough to withstand daily use for approximately fifty years.
What do others think?
Checking the user reviews on websites that sell the Philips Golite Blu indicate that it is popular and effective. It is rated 4.5 stars out of 5. Some users have reported relief of their symptoms in as little as a week of use.
Are there any complaints?
There were few complaints about this product. A couple customers indicated dissatisfaction with the built-in stand not being able to direct the light where they desired. These were individuals who were under physician’s orders to have the light therapy boxes directed at a specific angle. This can be remedied by propping the device.
What should I expect to pay?
Prices can vary widely between sellers. Most range in price between $100 and $220. Currently, the lowest price can be found at Amazon, which sells them for $149.99 (at the time of writing). For this price, you get the Philips Golite Blu with:
- Two year warranty
- Rechargeable battery
- Protective case
- Instruction guide
- A sleep education guide written by the National Sleep Foundation.