Dark Therapy in 6 Steps

These simple steps can stabilize mood, reduce mania, and improve sleep. For background, read more about the science of dark therapy and the role of light and darkness in bipolar and depression.

All you need to get started is a pitch dark bedroom and a pair of blue-light filtering glasses

Uvex Skyper S1933X is a low cost model (around $10). It’s a good place to start, but more comfortable models are at LowBlueLights.com (around $50, including some that fit over prescription glasses). Uvex Ultrapec is comfortable to wear and fits over glasses, but the price has gone up from $10 to $35 recently and at that rate you’re better off shopping LowBlueLights.

1. Evening

At 6 pm, put on blue-light blocking glasses. Wear them until ready for bed, and keep the lights down as low as you’re comfortable with. Don’t take the glasses off unless you’re in a pitch dark room. Pitch dark means you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

Don’t want to start at 6 pm? If you’re having mild mania, dark therapy may still work if you put them on two hours before bed, but for extreme mania you should start at 6pm at least until your symptoms improve. Do not, however, start dark therapy before 6 pm. That would flip your circadian rhythm – and your mood – in the wrong direction.

2. Sleep

Get your bedroom pitch dark. When ready for bed, lay down in the pitch dark room and take the glasses off.

3. Overnight

If you get up at night and turn the lights on, make sure to wear the glasses. Otherwise remain in your pitch dark bedroom throughout the night, whether asleep or not.

4. Morning

At 8 am, turn on the lights, or use a dawn simulator to wake up. Don’t wear the glasses during the day.

5. As you improve.

Once your symptoms improve, slowly put the glasses on later in evening, moving the start time up by 1 hour every two days until you’re wearing them 2 hours before bed.

6. Prevention

Once recovered, keep wearing the glasses 2 hours before bed and sleep in a pitch dark room. That will improve overall health (less cancer, weight gain, and diabetes) and prevents bipolar. It will also deepen your sleep quality so you’ll feel better the next day.


If you can’t get the room pitch dark, use a black sleep mask. If you can’t tolerate pitch darkness, use a low-blue night light. If you’re used to having the TV on in the bedroom, try music or podcasts instead (or search for the top sleep-inducing track: Weightless by Marconi Union). Don’t expect this therapy to make you sleep. Dark Therapy gives your brain many of the healing properties of sleep even if you’re wide awake all night.

Bottom Line

During Dark Therapy, you’ll need to be in virtual darkness (with blue light blocking glasses) or pitch darkness for the entire evening.