If you are living with multiple sclerosis (MS), you are most likely aware that extreme fatigue often tops the list of the most distressing symptoms of the disease.
The good news, however, is that there may be a way for you to fight that fatigue. A new study suggests that light therapy may help you get your life back.
How does light therapy help?
MS is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body attacks the insulation around its nerves, causing fatigue, numbness, bladder problems, mood issues and mobility problems that can hamper everyday life.
So, how exactly does light therapy help with this?
When patients with MS sat in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day for two weeks, they were less tired and reported more energy to get through their day than their counterparts who sat in front of a dim red light.
Exactly how light helps with fatigue isn’t fully understood, but researchers have their theories.
“Light therapy promotes alertness, concentration and wakefulness during the daytime and increases the availability of serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain; both neurotransmitters are responsible for the regulation of mood and motivation,” says study author Dr. Stefan Seidel. He’s a neurologist at Vienna General Hospital and associate professor at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.
The study included 26 people with MS. Half sat in front of a daylight lamp with a brightness of 10,000 lux, the level recommended for effective light therapy. The other half sat in front of an identical lamp that emitted a dim red light.
Researchers ruled out any sleep disorders before starting the study, as those could interfere with the results.
Those who sat by the 10,000-lux daylight lamp for a half-hour every day showed improved