We all have heard that daily routines are an important part of happiness. We often read about exercise routines, healthy eating routines, stress relief routines and many other great daily practices. But despite the plethora of information about how routines support our happiness, there's one routine that we often overlook - light.
Like the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, light is essential to life and well-being. Thankfully, it's also one of the easiest and most beneficial routines to add to your day.
Humans evolved under the sun for millions of years, and as a result, our bodies developed the ability to use light to enhance our health and well-being. Healthy full spectrum, bright light - like that from the sun - triggers functions in our brain that support our mood, energy, focus, sleep, appetite, and many other aspects of our well-being (even libido!).
But it was only 150 years ago that our relationship to sunlight changed when the electric light bulb was invented. Now, we no longer depend on the sun in the same way as our ancestors did. Alice Parker recently explored the relationship between sunlight and well-being in Time, and wrote:
Even Hippocrates believed that the changing seasons had something to do with health—and that the key was how much available daylight there was during different times of the year. Many centuries later, it's clear he was onto something. As people spend more time indoors staring at computer and television screens, scientists are starting to appreciate how exposure to sunlight affects various body systems.*
The irony is that even though our knowledge about the positive effects of sunlight increases, Americans now spend 90% of their time indoors.† That leaves just 10% of our time spent outdoors, and even less in the bright morning light that regulates so many of our body's important functions. This also means that when it's fall or winter, it can be incredibly difficult to get the amount of light we need.
HappyLight allows us to stay connected to healthy, full-spectrum light that is so essential to our mental and physical wellness. It delivers an intense, bright, white light at 10,000 lux that mimics sunlight - but without the harmful UV-rays. Of course, the best way to get your daily dose of light is from the sun, but because so many of us can't be outside in the sun regularly (due to the climate we live in, lifestyle, or work), a HappyLight is a safe, effective alternative.
It's important for our bodies to get bright, healthy light in the morning, so that's when it is recommended that you use your HappyLight light therapy lamp (using it in the evening or at night can interfere with your sleep or make you feel like you had one too many cups of coffee).
It's also suggested that you use it within 24 inches from your face (but no closer than 6 inches), and place it to the side or at an angle to your eyes. Just like the sun, you don't want to look directly at it.
One of the best things about establishing a HappyLight routine is that it doesn't require you to set aside any additional time in your day. It easily integrates with the healthy routines that are already a part of your life. For example, you can use your HappyLight while:
Using a HappyLight is particularly effective for those who either work indoors, experience seasonal change disorders (like Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter blues), have a sleep disorder, do night shift work, or are prone to jet lag from traveling.
The benefits of light therapy have been widely researched, and the most common are: enhanced mood (particularly during fall and winter), increased energy levels, enhanced sleep at night, and better concentration and focus.
Some people use their HappyLight all year round (particularly to help with sleep), and the majority of light therapy lamp users start their HappyLight routine sometime between August and February when they really start feeling signs of light deprivation from the fall and winter.
The key is to start using a HappyLight before you notice any negative effects from seasonal or lifestyle changes that prevent you from getting a healthy dose of bright light from the sun. Therefore, if you notice that you get a little down around the changing of the clocks (this year on November 5th), then you want to start using your HappyLight in advance. Similarly, if you notice your mood suffers around the start of the holidays, it's ideal to start using your HappyLight earlier so you that don't experience that dip in energy or mood when you normally do. Whenever you decide to start using your HappyLight, make sure to use it daily. Studies show that when light therapy routines cease, the benefits do as well.
We know that trying something new isn't always easy. This popular Verilux light therapy box delivers 10,000 lux of full spectrum, natural light in as little as 20 minutes a day. Plus, it has a host of other features that give it added flexibility for whatever your HappyLight routine may be: including, a wall mount, second comfort lens, tilt feature, and high/low-intensity control. There is also a 30-day, risk-free guarantee on all Verilux HappyLight. Since most people notice the effects of HappyLight in less than two weeks, this gives you or a friend plenty of time to try it out.
* Parker, Alice. "Why Sunlight Is So Good For You." TIME Guide to Happiness. (Accessed September 20, 2017).
† U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1989. Report to Congress on indoor air quality: Volume 2. EPA/400/1-89/001C. Washington, DC.