Blue light therapy is another interesting frontier of neurological studies. A recent study looked at the use of blue light therapy for patients with mild traumatic brain injury. In this randomized control trial, exposure to blue light helped study participants to improve their sleep patterns, and unexpectedly, showed actual improvements in brain structure, possibly because of better timing and quality of sleep, which can be a problem in recovery from brain injury.
Trial participants in the blue light group experienced reduced daytime sleepiness, which is a frequent problem with brain injury, even mild concussion. This group also experienced almost an hour earlier sleep onset times than the control group, meaning they had less trouble falling asleep at bedtime.
Compared with the control group, the blue light therapy group also showed improved executive function and increases in brain volume and function. These improvements were credited to better quality of sleep and longer duration, showing the importance of good sleep for brain function.
Light Therapy Promising
Moodsurfing has recommended blue light therapy for patients with bipolar symptoms, and has had some positive results. Light therapy is still very much in its infancy, and there is some reason for caution because of the theoretical possibility of retinal damage from long term use although the risk is less than the risk from sun exposure. Nonetheless, it is a promising field, not only for sleep and insomnia, but also for mood regulation, and other emotional and psychiatric disorders.
The study quoted above used a device that gave a thirty-minute pulse of blue light in the morning before 11:00 am, however we have long recommended a low-tech alternative: get outside in the sunshine each morning. Conversely, for those having trouble sleeping, the importance of blue light in establishing circadian rhythms highlights the need to minimize blue light exposure (screen time) in the evenings before bedtime.
Vlessides, Michael. Blue-Light Therapy Helps Heal the Brain. Medscape. Jan 24, 2020.