The Benefits of Using a Light Therapy Lamp

The Benefits of Using a Light Therapy Lamp

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Light therapy lamps are a popular way to add bright artificial light to dark rooms, which many people use to address seasonal depression issues. They differ from red light therapy products like Joovv, which use LEDs to deliver red and near infrared (NIR) light directly to the skin and cells. In this article we’ll explain light therapy lamps and their benefits. We’ll also differentiate lamps from LED light therapy devices and explain the health benefits of red and NIR light. 

What is light therapy?

When someone says “light therapy” they may be talking about light therapy lamps used for seasonal depression, or they might mean LED devices used for other health benefits like muscle recovery and inflammation reduction. Here’s a quick look at the differences between both:

What are light therapy lamps?

Sometimes called bright light therapy, lamps mimic sunlight with artificial light that brightens a room. People with seasonal depression may sit or work next to a lamp or light therapy box for several hours. Proponents believe light therapy lamps benefit a person by affecting brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, which may ease seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms. [1]

Light therapy lamps gained credibility as a potential mental health tool after a 2006 Canadian study showed light therapy lamp sessions had a positive effect on people with winter seasonal depression. [2] Here’s what the Mayo Clinic currently has to say about using light therapy lamps for mental health concerns:

“Light therapy lamps probably won't cure seasonal affective disorder, nonseasonal depression or other conditions. But it may ease symptoms, increase your energy levels, and help you feel better about yourself and life.”  --Mayo Clinic  [1]

What are LED red light therapy devices?

Red light therapy with an LED device is a quick, simple way to add more therapeutic light to your daily life. That’s important, because most people aren’t getting enough natural light from the outdoors everyday. The average American spends over 90% of their time indoors. [3] That only gets worse in the winter, with less daylight hours and colder temperatures. 

Devices like Joovv use LEDs that deliver both red and NIR light to your skin and cells. This is just like the wavelengths of light your body needs from natural sunlight, but without the heat or UV rays that cause sun damage. So how does it work? In short, red and NIR light helps your cells produce energy and rejuvenate more efficiently. It also improves blood flow and can help you manage inflammation

Joovv Go 2.0 Treating Forearm

Red light therapy, otherwise known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or photomedicine, is backed by a large amount of peer-reviewed clinical research. NASA studied light therapy in the late 1980s and 1990s for use in space, and over the last two decades, researchers have conducted over a thousand peer-reviewed trials and studies on various kinds of red light therapy. You can learn more about the science behind red light therapy here.

Key differences between light therapy lamps and LED devices

Light therapy lamps and LED devices are two different approaches to using light to make a positive impact on health and wellness. They work very differently: light therapy lamps light a room to give the impression of more sunlight, while LED devices actually deliver red and NIR light to a person’s body and cells for a physiological benefit like enhanced ATP energy production.

These are some other key differences between light therapy lamps and LED light therapy products like Joovv:

  • Lamps are less regulated: Light therapy lamps used for SAD are essentially just lighting devices, so they aren’t regulated like a health or wellness product. That means you see a lot of cut rate, untested lamps out there.

  • Red light devices offer a wider range of benefits: Light therapy lamps are mainly used for SAD and seasonal depression, or simply to illuminate a dark room. LED devices, on the other hand, have far more potential benefits. Red light therapy has been widely studied and tested in clinical trials and medical settings, with positive results for inflammation, pain relief, sleep, muscle recovery, skin health, and circulation, among others. Bottom line: Red light therapy devices have a lot more potential upside for your health.

 Safety & risks of light therapy lamps

One of the benefits of both light therapy lamps and red light therapy devices is that they don’t come with a lot of risks or side effects. Light therapy lamps are just that: lamps. They’re designed to brighten a room and your mood, but they have little impact on your physical health unless you have specific photosensitivity issues.

Red Light therapy devices such as Joovv is also a safe, well-tolerated therapy. Hundreds of clinical studies and trials have established that red light therapy presents very few risks or potential harms. The authors of the depression study mentioned above noted in their report that NIR light was well tolerated by the patients, with no serious side effects or reactions. [4]

Light therapy lamps used for seasonal depression can have a positive effect on a person’s mood by brightening up a room. An LED device like a Joovv delivers red and NIR light directly to a person’s cells, for a wide range of health and wellness benefits like sleep, recovery, inflammation, energy, and pain relief. Both methods of light therapy can be very effective with few side effects. Be sure to consult with a trusted healthcare provider before using a light therapy lamp for any mental health issues. 


Sources and References:

[1]  Light Therapy. Mayo Clinic. 

[2]  Lam RW, Levitt AJ, Levitan RD, Enns MW, Morehouse R, Michalak EE, Tam EM. The Can-SAD study: a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of light therapy and fluoxetine in patients with winter seasonal affective disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2006 May;163(5):805-12.

[3] Klepeis NE, Nelson WC, Ott WR, et al. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology. 2001 May.