No, light-up headphones won’t cure your seasonal blues

We may earn commission from the links on this page.


if you tend to Feeling sad during the darkest months of the yearIt’s known that getting some sun exposure can help. If you can’t get enough sunlight, a light therapy box (which shines in your general direction while you eat breakfast) is the next best option. But there’s another gadget that some people swear by – earbuds, which act as tiny flashlights that shine light into your ear canals. Are they legal?

A skin care TikToker @emmahoareau1 posted a brief review of her LED headphones for “people like me who suffer from seasonal affective disorder,” concluding that they are “absolutely life-changing.” . A Follow-up video After it went viral, commenters began debating whether it was possible for light to effectively reach your brain through the device.

In fact, your brain may be able to detect light

The obvious question is: does light actually reach your brain? If so, does the brain know it’s there? Surprisingly, the answer to these questions is: yes, and probably yes.

For decades, scientists have been studying the first question—whether light can pass through brain tissue.in a Studying in 1963, attaching a light detector (sort of like a tiny solar panel) to the end of a needle, which is then inserted into the brains of sheep, dogs, rabbits or mice—dead in some cases, alive in others, But was anesthetized. The researchers shined bright light on different parts of each animal’s head. They did some tests indoors and in the sun, shielding different parts of the head with aluminum foil to find out where the light was getting in.Their conclusion: light Do The brain is easily reached, especially through the temples, where the bones are particularly thin.

We also know that there are Light-detecting protein found in various parts of the body, including the brain.they may Help birds know what season it isFor example, but so far there has been no clear explanation why humans have these proteins or whether they play a role in seasonal affective disorder.

In 2016, another group of researchers Evidence found that light in ear canal does something Detectable by the brainbut it’s unclear whether this is good or bad, or if it accomplishes anything meaningful.

Researchers took a photo of a corpse’s skull with a Valkee device (similar to the one found in TikTok) in its ears. The light is bright enough to pass through the bones and into the brain.This is different from saying the device workHowever: “Whether chronic bright light delivery through the ear canal has clinically applicable benefits was beyond the scope of this study.”

There’s little evidence that these headphones perform as they say

There’s a huge leap between “light can reach the brain” to “this will cure your seasonal affective disorder,” and that’s where this product gets into trouble.

As far as I know, the light therapy headphones used in TikTok are made by Valkee, which is the only major brand out there.Their current product is called Human body chargerretail price is $200.

The company commissioned multiple studies for their products, and they seemed to rely heavily on them during the first few years of marketing. A 2012 TV show in Finland where Valkee is located, Confront the company over its marketing claims and point out to the audience that their research does not stand up to scrutiny. Many did not have adequate placebos, had conflicts of interest (company founders and board members were authors), and most were not published in peer-reviewed journals.At the time, their only peer-reviewed paper was medical hypothesisa journal dedicated to exploring “radical hypotheses that most traditional journals would reject.”

At the time, the company’s website mentioned that its products could treat migraines and jet lag; notably, the current HumanCharger website avoids any such claims. A marketing video shows a woman entering a hotel room with a suitcase rolling behind her, with a caption saying the device “brings you energy.” In another photo, it said the device could fight “depression.”

I don’t buy it

From that point on, research became unpromising.one Study in 2014 Its authors, who include Valkee employees and shareholders, claim the device lowers people’s scores on depression surveys. But there was no control group; the researchers were simply looking for evidence that people who received the highest dose of light would perform better than those who received the lowest dose. they do not.

A group of unrelated researchers, experts in chronobiology, People’s melatonin levels, subjective sleepiness and their performance on attention tasks were tested After using the Valkee device. They found no difference between people using the device and a “fake” version that didn’t light up. (As you might expect, visible light produced a strong response.) Their paper is titled: “Extraocular light passing through the ear canal does not severely affect circadian physiology, alertness, and psychomotor vigilance performance in humans.”

Other research on circadian rhythms has not found any conclusive evidence that our body clocks can be controlled by light from our ears, behind our knees, or anywhere else except our eyes.Interestingly, our eyes’ ability to perceive sunlight Seems to be separate from our vision. Many blind people find that their circadian rhythms are out of sync with daylight, but some people have their light detection systems intact even without vision.

So there is no strong evidence for The idea that light-up earbuds can do anything; and there’s plenty of evidence that they’re probably bullshit. I’m happy for everyone who buys this device and feels their life is better because of it (lord knows I have my own emotional support placebo), but I suggest you, dear reader, save your money.


#lightup #headphones #wont #cure #seasonal #blues
Image Source : lifehacker.com

Leave a Comment