"Natural performance boost". Sounds like the next article about super foods, right? Well, it’s not. We are talking about light therapy. And if this now sounds like you have to go to a clinic and lie in a brightly lit up oxygen tent for two hours, don’t worry and continue reading. The times of huge daylight-lamps on desks at home or at work is over. There are light and mobile devices out there that let you carry sunshine and all its positive implications in your pocket wherever you go.
Bright light improves vitality
Studies conducted to research the effects of bright light on people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) had a surprising outcome: Office employees were exposed to bright light during winter. The scientists hoped to find that bright light relieves the symptoms of the so-called winter blues, caused by the lack of sunlight.
What the test subjects reported was surprising: Not only did the exposure to bright-light help those suffering from SAD. Also the healthy subjects who hadn’t experienced any particularly negative consequences of the cold season reported feeling an improvement in their vitality. It was concluded that “bright-light exposure during winter appears to be effective at improving the health-related quality of life and alleviating distress in healthy subjects.” (Partonen T. and Lönnquist J., Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki)
It’s the biology, stupid
And when you think about it, it actually makes sense: Being diurnal creatures and having spent our whole evolutionary life being tired when it is dark and beginning the day with the need for fresh energy, it is actually quite logical that our organism is programmed to suck up the energy of sunlight and react with a boost of energy. That is the reason why bright light has an immediate activating effect on the central nervous system. And this is not only because of the suppression of melatonin, as some may think. During daytime, melatonin is virtually absent. But experiments conducted during daytime had the same results as the ones done at night!
Is it really that simple?
It seems so. Studies by the American Physiological Society sum up what immediate effects bright light has on human psychophysiology:
- Melatonin is suppressed
- Cortisol levels are raised
- Core body temperature is enhanced
- Sleepiness is reduced
- Alertness is raised
It also points out that other studies on the effects of light on the autonomic nervous system suggest that bright light may show an increase of muscle sympathetic nerve activity and heart rate.
Using the force
Not with a blue lightsaber but with the next best thing: A light bow. One of the newest devices on the market for light therapy that you can wear anywhere and anytime is Pocket Sky. Our wearable sends a gentle glow of “morning”-light into your eyes for 20 minutes. This way you can enhance your performance, be more active and vital with just the power of the sun. Not even superfoods come as natural as that.