Using Light Therapy to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the seasons change and daylight becomes more scarce, many start to feel the weight of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression, related to changes in seasons, begins and ends at about the same times every year. For many, it starts in the fall and continues into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Fortunately, one effective treatment that has emerged is light therapy, and understanding how it works can be the first step toward combating the symptoms of SAD.

Baby sleeping under controlled light conditions

What is Light Therapy?

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposure to daylight or specific wavelengths of light using polychromatic polarised light, lasers, light-emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps, or very bright, full-spectrum light. The treatment is designed to mimic natural outdoor light and cause a chemical change in your brain which lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD.

How Does Light Therapy Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Researchers believe that light therapy affects brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box can also help regulate your body's internal clock, which helps reduce the symptoms of SAD. Symptoms of SAD include sleeping too much, having low energy, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, and feeling sluggish or agitated. Therefore, timing your light therapy sessions can be crucial to maximizing its effectiveness.

Optimizing Your Environment for Light Therapy

When implementing light therapy, it's crucial to consider the setup of your environment. The placement of your light box should be consistent and intentional. It’s typically recommended that the light box be positioned about 16 to 24 inches from your face, directly in your line of sight, ensuring you do not look directly into the light. The sessions can last anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, depending on your needs and the specific device’s instructions.

However, while light therapy predominantly involves the presence of light, managing the darkness in your environment is equally essential. This is where blackout curtains like the Sleepout Home Blackout Curtains come into play. These curtains can be used to control light exposure, especially in the late evenings to promote increased production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep, helping to regularize your sleep patterns and improve overall mood stability.

Mother and baby by blackout curtains

Additional Tips for Managing SAD

  • Consistency is Key: Try to schedule light therapy sessions at the same time each day, preferably in the morning to help simulate sunrise.
  • Combine Treatments: Alongside light therapy, some may find psychotherapy, Vitamin D supplementation, and exercise to be beneficial.
  • Create a Comfortable Setup: Make your light therapy space comfortable and use it as a time to read, eat breakfast, or work.


Seasonal Affective Disorder can be a debilitating condition, but with the right tools and strategies, it's manageable. Light therapy offers a promising way to combat the depressive symptoms associated with the changing seasons. By combining light therapy with an optimized environment, using tools like blackout curtains to control light, you can create a regimen that supports your mental health throughout the fall and winter months. Effects of blackout curtains in managing light for therapy

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