Light + Health

Circadian Light Therapy Helps Bipolar Patients In Scandinavia

A patient being treated for mental health issues is receiving light therapy

Scandinavian countries have greater acceptance of circadian light therapy for psychological disorders. A hospital in Norway, Valen Hospital, has incorporated circadian light therapy into the emergency treatment of bipolar patients with positive results. Chromaviso is a Danish manufacturer of circadian lighting and light therapy luminaires. The Valen Hospital results have been peer-reviewed and published in Bipolar Disorders and The Journal of Sleep Research, among others.

Valen Hospital reports:

  • Blocking the blue wavelengths of light in the evening and at night reduces patients’ manic symptoms and improves their sleep. This is accomplished using blue-blocking glasses.
  • The hospital developed a light therapy room in the psychiatric emergency department to treat depressed patients.
  • Light therapy has benefits for all types of depression, including bipolar depression.
  • The integrated light therapy lamp can be controlled in terms of color temperature and intensity for the individual patient. It was commissioned in March 2019.
  • The light therapy room is used daily by patients as an alternative or supplement to medication for all depressed patients.
  • Research shows that light therapy alone can be as effective as medication alone. If the two are combined, a double effect is achieved.
  • A shorter hospital stay for those patients who use the light therapy room, typically hospitalized for 1-2 fewer days, out of the average hospital stay of 7-8 days.
  • The lighting treatment also helps patients who are experiencing poor circadian rhythm, such as sleeping too long or too late.
  • In the manic phase, patients need fewer lighting hours and more darkness, while patients in the depressive phase need more lighting for a longer period of time.
  • The doctor or psychologist prescribes which lighting protocol the individual patient should have.

The International Society for Bipolar Disorders, ISBD, has subsequently developed an international recommendation to include lighting as part of the treatment of bipolar patients.

Learn more here.

Check out our other Light & Health stories here. 


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