Phototherapy: optimising light for health - what, why and how


Did you know that much of our everyday problems — such as fatigue, skin and even home disinfection — can be treated with light? Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, involves using exposure to varying levels of light under controlled conditions (Schwartz, 2015). The term ‘photocatalytic’ means that Raze’s technology works hand-in-hand with light — UV in particular. ‘Photo’ refers to light, and ‘catalytic’ refers to the method by which the process is driven. Here’s a quick explanation of the differences between natural, artificial and ultraviolet light - and how you can optimise them in pursuit of a wellness lifestyle. 

 

NATURAL LIGHT

Natural light can provide a type of warmth and glow you can’t achieve artificially. In a survey, over 1600 employees ranked ‘access to natural light and outdoor views’ as their number one priority in a workplace environment above perks like fitness centres and on-site childcare (Future Workplace, 2019). Which types of nutritional benefits help explain the reasons why we crave natural light so instinctively?

 light, natural light, window, sunlight

 

1. Vitamin D boost

We know that vitamin D is associated with sunlight, but how important is it? Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, it helps regulate our levels of calcium and phosphate. These nutrients are vital for our bones, teeth, and muscles. Do you suffer from symptoms of muscle weakness? Are you prone to getting sick often? Fatigue is also a common symptom that is overlooked, and studies have shown that women with lower than average levels complain of tiredness much more than women who have healthy levels of vitamin D (PubMed, 2010). Nutrient deficiency can pose serious issues, and getting out to walk more or sitting closer to a window is easier than taking supplements. 

 

2. Sleep cycle improvements

Sunlight actually helps to regulate sleep through the production of melatonin and serotonin — that is at night, not during day! Despite seeming counterintuitive, sunlight has a direct impact on your sleep-wake cycle, which in turn has a direct impact on sleep quality. Your biological clock is important. Light is your body’s natural signal to wake, and the lack thereof, signals time to sleep. 

 

3. Lower risk of vision problems

If you stare at a computer, use a phone, watch TV — this one’s for you. The artificial light emitted by most screens are known to cause eye straining and possible permanent damage. Natural light helps to dilute these consequences by releasing dopamine to the eye, aiding healthy vision development. In fact, our eyes are adjusted ‘naturally’ for natural light, so it’s important to let your eyes ease back into what they’re used to. Of course, this is by no means encouraging you to stare directly at the sun; always protect yourself with sunglasses with proper protection against UV. 

 

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT

As if we didn’t already spend enough time indoors before the pandemic — around 80% of our time per average day — it’s all the more reason to consider the benefits of artificial light, and how we can optimise its use. 

 blue light, computer, screen, artificial light

 

1. Yellow + white light

There are no rules when it comes to which coloured light is ‘best’. Yellow light is more conventional, and is preferred by those who live in cooler climates. At a higher intensity, yellow light is also used for ‘amber light therapy’, and research has found it to help with sun damage and soothe sensitive skin. LED face masks are now increasingly popular, offering a range of wavelengths and settings to treat different skin issues. White light is most preferred for productivity, especially for enhancing visuals when working. However, white-coloured light can also be the most invasive, but induction light has been found to produce the same cooling effect minus the risk, due to its high colour rendering at 85%. Basically, yellow light is more forgiving, while white light simulates behaviour control and productivity.

 

2. Mood lighting

Generally speaking, this refers to all other coloured lights. Red light helps to ease your body to sleep. Orange light is described as a healthy atmosphere. Green light has a stabilising or balancing effect. Light in any colour of the spectrum has numerous benefits — even if not directly linked to health, it can demonstrate little improvements to our lifestyle, where big changes can be made. Initially, light therapy was used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a wave of depressive changes influenced by dark winter days. Today, this view has evolved as an effective treatment for even major depression and associated issues.

 

UV LIGHT

Finally, ultraviolet: a form of electromagnetic radiation. Don’t be scared — it’s actually seen as a highly effective, hospital-grade method for killing bacteria and pathogens — making it the perfect candidate that Raze’s technology works in sync with. However, although we’ve learnt to cultivate the benefits of UV, there are still significant dangers and risks associated with its use. 

 fluorescent, uv light, glow in the dark

 

1. Natural sources - UVA and UVB

Although UV is commonly associated with sunlight, only as little as 10% of UV rays reach the ground from the sun. The ‘tan’ you get through direct exposure is actually caused by UVB, and as much as it looks like a healthy summer glow, it’s really the result of skin damage. Your body produces melanin in response to protecting your skin tissue, and is also the pigment that darkens the shade of your skin. It is incredibly important to wear sunscreen. UVB may give you seemingly ‘desirable’ effects, but UVA — aka the main culprit in signs of skin aging — leads to permanent unwanted damage like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and texture.

 

2. Artificial sources — UVC

Fluorescent light is a form of artificial light that has absorbed UV radiation and emitted its energy as visible light. This enhancement gives it ‘glow in the dark’ properties, which is why it’s used for night signage and neon vests. Amazingly, UV has also been a breakthrough for cancer treatment in slowing down the growth of cancer cells without the UV-associated risks. The outlier form of UV rays, UVC, is also used to decontaminate surgical tools in hospitals due to its ability to thoroughly sanitise hard-to-reach areas. Not to mention, UVC works by breaking down the DNA of pathogens, making it an effective and lasting method, and doesn’t penetrate skin like UVA and UVB.

 

Find out more about Raze’s photocatalyst technology here.