Late at night, when most of us are sleeping, you are awake and working to provide us with medical care, keep us safe or create new products that we all need.
Shift work affects your well being and safety, mainly because you go against the natural need of your body to sleep at night and be awake during the day. This is why light therapy for shift work disorder makes so much sense.
Since your sleep patterns are mainly based on exposure to light, shift working often causes (among other problems) sleep problems – Specifically a Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder – A disruption in the sleep-wake cycle.
What Does Shift Work Disorder Feel Like?
You already know that shift work disorder is what causes your sleep problems, drowsiness and fatigue, but are you aware that it may also cause irritability, anger, depression, weight gain, disconnected thoughts, chronic headaches and reduced mental abilities (memory, decision-making and perception)?
Just because you can’t quit your job just yet, doesn’t mean that you have to accept the awful “side effects” of shift work disorder. Light therapy for shift work disorder is a natural and safe way to win the constant battle with insomnia, exhaustion and drowsiness.
More importantly, bright light therapy can reduce the health risks that shift workers are exposed to (and they even include cardiovascular problems).
Light Therapy for Shift Workers – How Does it Work?
The purpose of bright light therapy for shift workers is to improve sleep while off work, while simultaneously improving alertness and productivity while at work.
This is achieved by exposing yourself to a lighter-brighter than normal household lighting during prescribed periods during the day or night.
Bright light therapy is used to expose your eyes to intense (10,000 LUX), but SAFE amounts of light, in a specific wavelength and specific time. You are NOT supposed to stare straight into the light, just be exposed to it from a certain distance (more about that below).
With proper use of a light box or light lamp, shift workers and people who work irregular hours can feel more alert, energetic and also notice an improvement in on-the-job performance, less errors and fewer injuries.
How to Choose a Bright Light Therapy Device
The recommended light intensity according to all research is 10,000 LUX. You must make sure the device filters out UV rays.
There are 3 types of light therapy devices you can choose from:
- Light Boxes – Such as the recommended Litebook Elite or the Philips Wakeup Light. Light boxes require for you to sit in one place, but you can do what ever you want – Like reading your emails, books or anything else.
- Light Visors – Light visors allow moving around. This is a good light visor.
- Light Therapy Lamps – These look just like regular lamps, you can place them at your bedside or on your desk at work. We recommend Uplift Technologies DL930 Day-Light Lamp.
How to Use Your Light Box
It’s best advised to consult a doctor to get a prescribed distance and treatment times. But generally, this is how to use bright light therapy for shift work disorder:
Position the light box approximately 12 to 24 inches (30-60 cm) from your face, and offset it to a 30 to 45 degree angle, like sunlight coming in a window.
1. Before shift – 15-30 minutes at the start of your day, whatever time it may be.
2. During shift – 15-30 minutes again during the first half of your shift, for an energy boost.
3. After shift – Use sunglasses to avoid sun exposure on your way home, do not use the light box and darken your room as much as possible. You want to gearing down for sleep.
4. At home – Avoid exposure to any light, including TV and computer monitors, before you go to sleep. Even better – Wear an eye mask to block 100% of the light.
Possible Side Effects
Bright light therapy may cause a few side effects, usually caused by over-using and mi-using the light box. These include eye strain, headache, agitation, fatigue and dry mouth. Moving away from the device and reducing treatment time can solve this.
Remember to not stare at the device. Also, consult your doctor if you have any eye condition or you suffer from Bipolar Disorder.
The Top 3 Light Boxes for Shift Workers
Light-Therapy-Reviews.net recommends these 3 devices:
- Philips Wake Up Light – See our full review – Right here.
- Litebook Elite – See our full review – Right Here.
- Uplift Technologies DL930 Day-Light Lamp – See real reviews – Right Here.
I hope you found this post helpful!
To your health and happiness,
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