Meta: COVID isolation can be lonely. Here’s how a Light Therapy Lamp can help you combat quarantine blues.
After two years of lockdowns, travel restrictions, mask mandates and media hysteria, pretty much everybody is sick and tired of COVID-19. The pandemic has wrecked economies, pitted people against each other and claimed millions of lives. With omicron now spreading rapidly, the virus has become much more transmissible. At this point, it seems we’re all bound to catch it.
A COVID infection means having to quarantine, which can be quite a lonely and sad time. Luckily, we’re here to help! Here are some simple things that you can do to boost your spirits up as you weather the storm and keep anxiety and depression at bay.
SAD on Steroids
Scientists have long known about a condition called seasonal affective disorder that causes symptoms similar to depression in parts of the world where there is far less sunlight during the winter months. It is estimated that up to four in 10 people who live in colder climates develop SAD symptoms each year, but the true figure could be much higher.
Enjoying time with family and friends, going to the gym and spending more time outside are the best ways of dealing with SAD, but the pandemic has made doing any of these things all but impossible.
This has created a negative spiral that has left millions of Americans feeling powerless. A lack of sunlight leaves them feeling anxious and sad, and the things they can do to snap out of it are no longer on the table. COVID isolation and daily news reports about new and even more virulent strains make things worse, but simple home remedies like vitamin D supplementation and light therapy could provide safe, inexpensive and extremely effective treatments.
What Is a Light Therapy Lamp?
A light therapy lamp is designed to provide the benefits of natural sunlight in an indoor setting. While the internal workings of the human brain are not fully understood, scientists have determined that winter sadness and depression is largely the result of decreased serotonin production and increased melatonin levels caused by a lack of exposure to natural light. Light therapy lamps produce the blue and red-light wavelengths that traditional indoor lighting does not, which is why they are able to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of SAD and COVID-related depression, among other mood and energy conditions.
Studies have shown that sitting in front of a 10,000 LUX light therapy lamp for just 30 minutes each morning is all it takes to replicate the benefits of sunlight, feel invigorated and overcome anxiety and depression during COVID.
How Can It Help with Covid Isolation?
Researchers do not yet understand the link between covid and depression, but they do acknowledge that isolation makes feelings of hopelessness and despair far worse.
A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June 2020 revealed that 40% of Americans were coping with pandemic-related mental health or substance abuse problems, and that was in the middle of summer.
These issues become more serious in the winter months because our optic nerves do not provide our eyes with as much light stimulation. The brain uses light to regulate mood and keep hormone levels in balance, which is why spending time outside on a warm summer day leaves us feeling refreshed and happy.
We don’t feel nearly as good when spending most of our time indoors, and COVID isolation adds to our misery. Light therapy allows us to use technology to fool our brains into thinking that it’s still summer, which can make us feel a lot better about ourselves even during a pandemic.
Help with Feelings of Depression
One of the hormones light therapies stimulate is serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that relays information inside the brain and is associated with happiness and exuberance. Scientists observed more than 50 years ago that people diagnosed with clinical depression usually had very low serotonin levels, which is why selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are now routinely prescribed as treatments for the debilitating condition.
Light therapy lamps that produce blue and red light to mimic natural sunlight promote serotonin production without drugs, and they do it painlessly and safely in about half an hour. Hormone treatments also work extremely quickly, which means that just a few sessions in front of a light therapy lamp will probably be all that you need to improve your mood and prevent covid isolation depression.
Helps Regulate Sleeping Patterns
When light therapy boosts serotonin production, it also regulates melatonin levels. This is crucial because melatonin is the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm or sleep cycle. Melatonin production is governed by light, and we produce less of it in the summer and more of it in the winter.
This imbalance can push our circadian rhythm out of sync, which makes it harder to fall asleep and affects how we feel during the day. Human beings originated in a part of the world that has plenty of sunlight all year round, which is why our brains find it difficult to cope with prolonged darkness.
Sitting in front of a light therapy lamp for thirty minutes each day shortly after getting up makes the brain think that it is out and about in bright sunlight, which keeps melatonin at optimal levels and restores circadian rhythms. Doctors prescribe light treatment for patients suffering from insomnia and phase-advanced sleeping disorders, and it is also used by millions of travelers around the world to counter the effects of jet lag. When in isolation, we may not adhere to a consistent sleep schedule. Using a Bright Health’s light therapy lamp can help regulate sleep and avoid restlessness.
We tend to feel a lot more sluggish when the days are short, and it was long thought that this was caused by stress and the general malaise that tends to set in when temperatures plummet. However, recent studies suggest that light may also be playing an important role.
When researchers administered light therapy to patients who had developed severe fatigue following a brain injury, they noticed that they became more productive, had quicker reaction times, fell asleep faster and slept more peacefully. If you feel overwhelming tiredness and are looking for something that works better than coffee, you might want to consider giving light therapy a try.
Helps Clear the Mind to Improve Concentration
Spending our days cooped up and staring at computer screens was not what the human body was designed for, so it is not surprising that we often find it difficult to focus on important tasks. This is especially true in the winter months when there is less sunlight to enjoy or during pandemic lockdowns when the rules require us to remain in place.
Just 30 or so minutes of light therapy each morning could offset the toll modern life takes on your brain and improve your concentration and focus. And you also won’t have to worry about the side effects of powerful pharmaceuticals. If you decide to try light therapy, you will soon marvel at how a more positive outlook, better sleep and less fatigue work wonders for your brain.