How to Incorporate Light Therapy Into Your Office Space

Picture this: It’s wintertime. You wake up in the dark. After getting ready, you take transit to your office - it’s still dark outside. Then, feeling sluggish, you struggle through an eight-hour (or more) workday in an office cubicle under electric lights. When your day is done, you head home in the dark once again, only to spend your evening indoors too. You haven’t been outside all day.

 Home-Office-Home. Repeat. 

Home-Office-Home. Repeat. 

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. We Americans spend the majority of our days indoors - and this is particularly damaging during the fall and winter months, when daylight hours are few and far between.

  The winter blues impact every aspect of our lives - especially our work-life.

The winter blues impact every aspect of our lives - especially our work-life.

Just think about it: many of us spend more than 40 hours per week at the office.

New research proves that when workers gain adequate exposure to natural light or light therapy lamps in the morning, they sleep better at night - and are ultimately healthier and more productive at work. Having an “office with a view” is not just a status symbol - it’s actually really good for your body clock.

Our bodies rely on exposure to sunlight to complete their natural functions, such as digestion, sleep patterns and moods. 

Natural Lighting in Office

There’s a conversation brewing about how architects and building planners can incorporate more natural light design into the workplace. It’s also about ensuring that everyone - not just the boss - has access to common spaces with natural sunlight.

But, for those of us who work in older buildings - it might be some time before we can enjoy natural light in our office environment. That’s why incorporating a light therapy lamp into your office setup and daily routine can help leave you feel your best at work.

Here’s how to incorporate light therapy into your office life:

1. Set Your Desk Up

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Place the light therapy lamp on your work desk at eye level and within reach. Leaving the lamp in sight serves as a daily reminder and also eliminates any barriers to usage; such as having to take it out of a drawer and find power cables to plug in. For those minimalist desk types, there’s no need to worry about clutter. Our Lumos Lamp is versatile so it can fit subtly into just about any space.

2. Create a Routine

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Commit to using the light therapy lamp at a designated time each day. The recommended usage is between 20 to 60 minutes per day - in the earlier part of the day. If an entire hour in one sitting is too long at first, start with less time or try shorter intervals over the course of a few hours.

3. Use Alarms As a Reminder

Alarms

It can take months to create habits, so setting an alarm on your phone or computer may help remind you to begin and end your light therapy practice. Eventually, you may find yourself reaching for the switch before your alarm even goes off. That’s when you know the habit is formed.

4. Get Outside

 Take a stroll outside

Take a stroll outside

Using your light therapy lamp is a great way to supplement exposure to natural light, but it’s still important to get real light every day too. Try to incorporate some outside time into your daily routine at work. Time outside is going to make a world of difference; whether it’s taking a 15 minute stroll around the block on a break, or choosing a lunch spot that’s a little further away from the office.

Having a balanced sleep-wake pattern will reduce the head fog and health issues that come along with light deprivation. It’s time to get back to slaying your work day!

Learn more about how light therapy works in our previous post.

How Light Therapy Works

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Like plants, humans need natural light 

Americans now spend up to 90% of our lives inside - largely under synthetic lighting and without much natural light at all. Think about what that would mean for a houseplant, for a second. Without sunlight, the plant would slowly wither up; no matter how much water you gave it.

Just like our leafy friends, human bodies also depend upon sunlight to regulate their biological functions. Lack of sun exposure can throw our natural body clock (AKA the circadian rhythm), into a destructive tailspin. Sleep-wake patterns, digestion, the immune system, mood regulation, hormonal balance, metabolism, and a host of other functions are all within firing range of an out-of-whack body clock.

One of the most common side effects of circadian rhythm dysfunction is winter blues, this form of clinical depression is most prevalent during the fall and winter months, when people living further away from the Equator experience less daylight hours.

There are countless other symptoms of sunlight deficiency: weight gain, stunted growth and development in children, nearsightedness, lethargy, chronic illnesses; the list goes on.

Needless to say, humans need natural light - and we just aren’t getting enough.

So, how can light help?

Enter the gamechanger: light therapy. Simply put, sunlight therapy lamps can help humans compensate for our indoor lifestyles by mimicking the natural light we so desperately need.

Natural sunlight helps our bodies release important hormones that regulate biological functions. One of the most important hormones is Melatonin - which signals our body when it’s time to sleep. And with a good night’s rest, our body is free to go about its regularly scheduled programming. This will lead to healthier sleep patterns and a better night’s rest. And, the rest, they say, is history.

Choosing a Light Therapy Lamp

 Let there be light. 

Let there be light. 

When it comes to light therapy, not just any old desk lamp will do. That’s why, light therapy lamps must be full spectrum, which essentially means that the lightbulb spans the full spectrum of visible light, but filters out the dangerous forms of light, like ultraviolet. 

 Feel healthier naturally with light

Feel healthier naturally with light

Here are a few ways you can use light therapy to improve your overall health and wellbeing:

  • Use your light therapy lamp for 30-60 minutes between 8am-12pm, local time. This will tell your body that it’s time to wake up at the right time

  • Create a routine with the light therapy lamp by using it at around the same time every day

  • Place the light therapy lamp at your work desk or in another place where you spend most of your time in the morning

  • Position the lightbox at eye level or higher and about two-feet away from your face. Remember to keep the placement off to the side so you don’t have to look directly into the light

Do you have questions about how light therapy can impact your overall health? Ask us in the comments below!

3 Things About Winter Blues

 It is mid September, and Fall is on her way.

It is mid September, and Fall is on her way.

The cooler weather often inspires a certain sense of whimsy: crisp walks amidst autumnal foliage, cozy sweaters, pumpkin spiced lattes, and gleeful Netflix binge-watching marathons. But, while many are reveling in the Instagram-friendly arrival of Fall, the seasonal change also heralds a sense of dread for some; as the daylight hours shrink and the dark days of winter loom.

What can seem like lethargy and a strong desire to hibernate due to the shorter days and inclement weather, can actually be a much more complex disorder that has far-reaching consequences.

Understanding winter blues impacts and treatments is key to turning your winter slump around.

 Our internal body clock is disrupted when we don't get enough light

Our internal body clock is disrupted when we don't get enough light

1. Our Bodies Need Sunlight To Regulate

Just like plants, our bodies need natural light to flourish and operate their day-to-day functions. Our increasingly indoor existence and hectic lifestyles mean that we spend the majority of our time under fluorescent lighting or worse - staring into the blue screens of our devices for long periods throughout the day.  

A lack of sunlight during certain times of the year compounds these indoor habits. Not getting enough sunlight impacts melatonin levels, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. This, in turn, impacts our circadian rhythm (also known as the internal clock). When our body’s natural clock is out of order, the whole delicate balance can become disrupted as it struggles to “tell the time”.

2. Winter Blues Can Wreak Havoc On Our Lives

Without proper sleep and wake cycles, everything else in our lives can go haywire. It’s difficult to concentrate, eat properly and think clearly, let alone maintain relationships and careers. Symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness, trouble sleeping, a lack of appetite, and low energy levels. These mental health issues can permeate all aspects of our lives, making it challenging to maintain a healthy and well-balanced life.

3. Light Therapy Can Help

There is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel, though - a 10,000 lux light to be exact. Daily exposure for 30 to 60 minutes using a full spectrum light can give your body it’s much-needed daily dose of natural sunlight.

This ultimately leads to a dramatic improvement in mental health and overall well-being during the long, dark days of winter.

 Fall in love with sweater weather again

Fall in love with sweater weather again

So, as the leaves change colour and the days grow shorter, embrace the seasons with confidence, not dread. A daily dose of light therapy will keep your internal clock humming as if  you were living in the tropics. With your circadian rhythm singing, you’ll even have the energy and motivation to get outside and explore all that autumn has to offer. After all, the best medicine of all is plain old natural sunlight.

Want to know more about the science behind light therapy lamps?

Read the research or ask us your questions in the comments below!