Does Bright Light Therapy Increase Testosterone?

Get more light, especially in the morning after waking up, and your testosterone levels will thank you! Fluorescent lights, such as office lighting, are not bright enough to wake you up and raise your testosterone. You need light as bright as natural daylight for a naturally high hormone level.

Exposure to bright light, especially sunlight, raises testosterone a lot.

Italian researchers took men with low testosterone and nearly doubled their levels in just two weeks, by exposing them to 30 minutes of bright light soon after waking up.

They went from a very low 210 ng/dl of testosterone to a more acceptable 360 ng/dl. Your body needs to see bright light right after you wake up to make you understand that it’s morning and it’s time to be awake and energetic! This seems to regulate the chemicals in your body, including testosterone. It’s not just men with low testosterone that benefit, another study found that in young healthy guys, Leutinizing Hormone, which is the hormone that tells testosterone to rise, was increased almost 70% by early morning light exposure. This study used a 1000 lux light box. The Italian researchers in the first study used a 10,000 lux light box similar to this:

Verilux HappyLight Luxe – UV-Free LED Therapy Lamp, Bright White Light with 10,000 Lux

Natural sunlight would be preferable, but some people don’t have access to this and so a light box would be a pretty good alternative. Even just normal lamps in your house would be beneficial. Turn on the lights, darkness will lower your testosterone! I’ve found that fluorescent lights in office buildings, despite being glaring and unpleasant, actually seem to be too dim to really wake you up and so they likely keep your testosterone low. You need sunlight!

Office buildings are typically 500 lux, while direct sunlight is 32,000 lux or more. The 10,000 lux that the researchers used is on the low end of ambient light outside. This daylight was sufficient to raise the the men’s testosterone, but direct sunlight’s much higher lux seems to raise testosterone even more. Florescent lights are so dim compared to daylight that they don’t even seem to wake you up. If you get 30 minutes or more of morning sunlight instead of going straight from your dim house to your dim office, you might find that you don’t need quite so many cups of coffee to stay energetic during the day!

Source of lux ratings:

UV Light Could Raise Testosterone

In 1939, a Dr. Myerson experimented with shining a bright UV light on depressed men. Dr. Myerson measured the excretion of androsterone, a testosterone metabolite. He found that this increased by 120% over the course of a 5 day treatment, where he shone UV light on the front of the body for a mere 8-20 minutes a day. Over the next 8 days, the androsterone levels slowly fell back to the earlier levels, but he found that he could always make them rise again by repeating the UV exposure. This study makes it clear that frequent sunlight exposure is the key. It seems that each sunbathing session will raise testosterone a little more until it reaches a high level, where it will stay as long as you keep sunbathing pretty frequently.

Sunlight for Testosterone

Sunlight is the gold standard for testosterone elevation, because it is by far the brightest, it contains UV rays, and its spectrum is the one that humans are biologically accustomed to. Sunlight raises Vitamin D, and Vitamin D apparently raises testosterone. This is one of the reasons that sunbathing would raise testosterone, but also the bright light by itself is important for raising testosterone, independent of Vitamin D. This is why taking a Vitamin D supplement is not a sufficient replacement for sun exposure.

Darkness Lowers Testosterone

Hamsters kept in permanent darkness for a while had their testosterone levels crash to apparently castrate levels. When they were put back into a natural light cycle, their testosterone came back up to normal. (Source)

How to Schedule Your Light Exposure

It’s important to be in bright light after waking up, and all through the day. It seems that this will keep your testosterone high. Ideally you would be in direct sunlight throughout the whole morning when there is minimal risk of sunburn (until 10AM or 11AM during daylight savings time). Then you’d get some direct sunlight after this point for the UV benefits. UV seems to raise testosterone, but it also can sunburn you and cause damage, so you should start with 15 minutes exposure, or whatever won’t burn you. I think it would be best to slowly increase this sun exposure as well, maybe up to 2 hours if you can handle it. Then the rest of the day, you’d get bright light on you from sunlight through a UV blocking window, or from a very well lit room. After 4PM (or 5PM during daylight savings time) the UV is minimal again, and you can be in direct sunshine without really worrying about sunburn.

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