If you’ve decided to give SAD light therapy a try you may be wondering…
What’s the best light therapy schedule?
The answer is that the best schedule is really different for each individual, but we are going to breakdown how you can come up with a light therapy schedule that works for your specific situation.
To achieve this we are going to dive into a few of the most common light therapy scheduling questions.
How long should I do light therapy for each day?
Most experts suggest undergoing light therapy with a SAD light box in the morning for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your level of tolerance. When you first start out, try to limit sessions to 20-30 min.
If you see a boost in your mood and energy levels, you can gradually increase the duration of the session to see if you can get greater benefit from additional light exposure…or you can simply stick with what is working.
If the light therapy sessions are having little or no effect, then jump up to 45-60 minutes each morning, and see if you start to see mood and energy improvements.
How many times per week should I do SAD light therapy?
The best way to see results with light therapy is to stay consistent. Most experts would agree that using a light box every day is really the best way to get the most out of your sessions.
If you only undergo light therapy sessions a few times a week, they won’t be nearly as effective.
So our recommendation is to use your SAD light therapy device daily during the fall and winter seasons.
Can you use a SAD light too much?
Most people polled claim to enjoy the massive benefits light therapy provides them in regards to improved mood and energy. You definitely can’t overdose on light therapy, but the are some mild and rare potential side effects to keep in mind.
Occasionally people report the following side effects after starting light therapy to treat SAD:
- Trouble Sleeping
- Bouts of Mania
If you suffer any side effects from using a SAD light, make sure to contact an expert before continuing treatment.
What time should I do light therapy?
When trying to counter act the effects of seasonal affective disorder, most people report finding the best results by using light therapy devices early in the morning as soon as possible after waking up.
By doing light therapy in the morning you are essentially telling your body to release melotonin in the evening, which causes you to become sleepy at the proper time.
Many people also say they enjoy the benefits of adding an additional light therapy session to their afternoon routine. So, if you want to try to add a second session to your day then by all means give it a shot!
Can you use light therapy at night?
Using a light therapy box too late in the evening is typically regarded as a bad idea. Doing so can disturb your sleep pattern or even cause insomnia.
If you do light therapy too close to bedtime, at the very least you may have slight problems falling asleep.
If you have to use a SAD light therapy device in the evening, make sure to stop your session at least one hour prior to getting into bed.
Light Therapy Schedule for Beginners
Now that you have some answers as to when and how you should undergo light therapy for SAD, here are some instructions to build a schedule for beginners:
- Use a 10,000 Lux light therapy box or a pair of SAD glasses that emits at least 500 Lux
- Make sure to keep a regular sleep schedule (try to fall asleep and wake up around roughly the same time each day)
- Start therapy as soon as possible after waking up each morning
- Try to get 30 minutes of light exposure per session
- Keep a journal documenting how you feel (both positive and negative)
- After 2 weeks reevaluate your progress
If you aren’t seeing good results after two weeks, increase the session duration to 60 minutes and see if the extra time helps your mood and energy levels.
The optimal light therapy schedule is between 30-60 minutes everyday for most people, so play around with the timing until you find what works best for you!