Frequently Asked Questions
What is light therapy / phototherapy?
Light therapy or phototherapy consists of exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light using lasers, light-emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps or very bright, full-spectrum light, usually controlled with various devices. The light is administered for a prescribed amount of time and, in some cases, at a specific time of day. Common use of the term is associated with the treatment of skin disorders, sleep disorders and some psychiatric disorders. Light therapy directed at the skin is also used to treat acne vulgaris, eczema and neonatal jaundice. Light therapy which strikes the retina of the eyes is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders such as delayed sleep phase syndrome and can also be used to treat seasonal affective disorder, with some support for its use also with non-seasonal psychiatric disorders. Other medical applications of light therapy also include pain management, accelerated wound healing, hair growth, improvement in blood properties and blood circulation, and sinus-related diseases and disorders. Many of these use low level laser therapy and red light therapy in the 620–660 nm range.
How does SunSauna’s light system work?
The therapeutic level of illumination has several known physiological effects. Blood levels of the light-sensitive hormone melatonin, which may be abnormally high at the start of the day, are rapidly reduced by light exposure. Depending on when bright light is presented, the body’s internal clock, which controls daily rhythms of body temperature, hormone secretion, and sleep patterns, shifts ahead or is delayed when stimulated by light. These physiological time shifts may be the basis of the therapeutic response. Light may also amplify the day-night difference in these rhythms. Therapeutic light exposure is also directly energizing, and it stimulates the brain’s serotonin system.
If outdoor light intensities are critical, can the therapeutic effect be achieved by spending more time outdoors in winter?
Again, some individuals report improvement by spending more time in the sun. For most, however, the strongest therapeutic effect requires exposure to SunSauna’s bright light in early morning, at an hour (6:30 a.m., for example) when it is still quite dark outdoors during long winter nights.
Does SunSauna’s light therapy really work?
Researchers at more than 15 medical centers and clinics in both the U.S. and abroad have had much success with light therapy in patients with clear histories of SAD for at least several years. Marked improvement is usually observed within a week, and symptoms usually return in about the same amount of time when the lights are withdrawn. Most users, therefore, maintain a consistent daily schedule beginning, as needed, in fall or winter and usually continuing until the end of April, by which time outdoor light is sufficient to maintain good mood and high energy. Some people can skip treatments for one to three days, occasionally longer, without ill effect, but most start to slump quickly when treatment is interrupted.
Are there any side effects to light therapy?
Side effects have been minimal. While a small minority of patients experience headaches, eyestrain/irritation, fidgetiness or mild nausea at the beginning of treatment, these usually subside after a few days. If they are persistent, the dose of light can be tapered, most often taking care of the problem. The most dramatic side effect, which occurs quite infrequently, is a switch to an overactive state, during which one may have difficulty sleeping, become restless or irritable, and feel speedy or “too high.” People who have experienced such states in late spring or summer (indicative of hypomania or mania in bipolar disorder) are particularly vulnerable, and guidance by a skilled clinician in the use of light therapy is especially important. Use of a mood stabilizing drug may be needed. If eye irritation persists, it can be alleviated by sitting farther from the lights, using them for shorter periods, installing a humidifier or using artificial tears.
Can I use SunSauna’s lights if I’m pregnant?
Light therapy has been used successfully in several clinical trials with women suffering postpartum depression, whether or not it is in winter. The method offers a safe alternative to medication use, where the fetus might be vulnerable. Infrared heat, however, should not be used during pregnancy. Do SunSauna’s lights stimulate vitamin D production? Is that the key to the antidepressant effect? SunSauna’s lighting system should not do so since it uses an ultraviolet-screened diffuser, as recommended. Small amounts of outdoor light (with UV) stimulate adequate skin production of Vitamin D, although less so in winter in the north. If Vitamin D is an issue, supplement with capsules or a solution.
When are the lights contraindicated?
There are no specific contraindications except in the case of degenerative retinal diseases. As a precaution, patients with ocular pathology should proceed only with concurrence of their ophthalmologist and a schedule of periodic eye exams. Most drug phototoxicity stems from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which is not a problem when using a UV-screened light box. Several drugs (for example, antiarrhythmic medications used to control irregular heartbeat), have been shown to photosensitize to intense visible light, mainly short-wavelength blue irradiation. Caution is warranted in such cases.
What is heat therapy?
Wikipedia Definition: Heat therapy, also called thermotherapy, is the application of heat to the body for pain relief and health. It can take the form of a hot cloth, hot water, ultrasound, heating pad, hydrocollator packs, whirlpool baths, cordless FIR heat therapy wrap, and many others. It can be beneficial to those with arthritis and stiff muscles and injuries to the deep tissue of the skin. Heat may be an effective self-care treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Heat therapy is most commonly used for rehabilitation purposes. The therapeutic effects of heat include increasing the extensibility of collagen tissues; decreasing joint stiffness; reducing pain; relieving muscle spasms; reducing inflammation, edema, and aids in the post acute phase of healing; and increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow to the affected area provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen for better healing.
What is far-infrared heat?
Far-infrared radiant (FIR) heat is a completely safe form of naturally occurring energy that heats objects by a process called direct light conversion. Radiant heat is also called infrared heat or infrared energy. Direct light conversion warms only the object and does not raise the temperature of the surrounding free air. This type of energy travels 2-3″ deep into the body and has been shown to increase circulation and nourish damaged tissue.
Why is infrared heat important to the human body?
Infrared heat has the ability to penetrate, refract, radiate and reflect. The human body can absorb infrared heat because of its deep penetrating ability. When it penetrates through skin to the subcutaneous tissues, it transforms from light energy into heat energy. The thermal effect within the deep layers of the tissues causes bloods vessels and capillaries to dilate, promoting a better blood circulation, and the heat so produced helps to get rid of body toxins and metabolic wastes through sweating.
Can SunSauna be used to help with Yoga or other physical activities?
Yes, the heat from SunSauna will cause the human body to heat up and become more flexible. In addition, stretching after using SunSauna will help to maintain that flexibility. Infrared heaters can be used in preparation for any physical activity and to promote healing after injury.