I already take vitamin D to supplement lack of sunlight, but I have had melatonin regulation problems for a long time. I was diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, and started taking melatonin at night to sleep. My hypothesis is that I could have a normal sleep-wake cycle, without the perpetual drowsiness and sleeplessness, if I brought my light exposure back into ancestral conditions.
I am looking to do two things: increase morning light exposure, and decrease evening blue-light exposure. I think I could accomplish this by having low-blue light bulbs in my room, along with a light therapy box. I have two questions:
1) Does anyone have recommendations for light therapy devices? In particular, I would like to have it on a timer (ideally gradual), so that I can use it to wake up.
2) Will it also be necessary/beneficial to supplement throughout the day at work? I sit in a cubicle with mostly fluorescent lighting and a computer screen.
Thanks for your help!
asked byWill (911)
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on February 20, 2010
at 06:10 PM
I take melatonin for delayed sleep phase syndrome too and in my opinion this made all the difference. I also sometimes use a full spectrum lamp from lumie. I don't notice too dramatic a difference with or without it, but I don't know whether that's me not responding much to light therapy, the light itself being sub-par, or me just not noticing.
I've heard a lot of good anecdotal reports of lights which come on before waking, but never seen the logic myself. If you want something to physically wake you up then an alarm will serve, and if you want to make yourself feel more awake once you're up then you can turn on the light once you're up. You can get full spectrum lights with timers from that same website though.
I also use a blue daylight simulation bulk in my room, which certainly seems brighter than any other lights. Like the full spectrum light, it makes me feel more awake in the perfectly ordinary sense that brighter lights do, but I've never experienced any changes in my sleep patterns as a consequence.
If you want to keep yourself awake throughout the day then full spectrum lighting should help in theory and you can get smaller versions of the lamp I linked to.
I'm slightly torn about how effectual light therapy is because while I don't seem to feel much difference from using the lights or not, I do notice a very striking difference if there's bright light outside, a fact which might suggest that I just have the wrong lamp. I do seem to be generally very light sensitive, in that even in winter I'll sometimes wake up at 5-6am the second dawn breaks. That was before I didn't use blackout curtains, which have solved that problem.
One other thing to bear in mind, if you're not doing it already, is to take your vitamin D early in the day, away from bedtime. I've not looked into ways to block blue-light in the evening, but was interested in the discussions over on the how to hack your sleep question. I just turn all my lights down from around 5pm and turn off or cover all LEDs when I go to sleep/
on February 20, 2010
at 05:59 PM
Download this for your computer: http://www.stereopsis.com/flux/
It will substitute the blue light for yellow after sundown.
on March 11, 2010
at 04:48 AM
Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival By T. S. Wiley, Bent Formby
With research gleaned from the National Institutes of Health, T.S. Wiley and Bent Formby deliver staggering findings: Americans really are sick from being tired. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression are rising in our population. We're literally dying for a good night's sleep.
Our lifestyle wasn't always this way. It began with the invention of the lightbulb.
When we don't get enough sleep in sync with seasonal light exposure, we fundamentally alter a balance of nature that has been programmed into our physiology since Day One. This delicate biological rhythm rules the hormones and neurotransmitters that determine appetite, fertility, and mental and physical health. When we rely on artificial light to extend our day until 11 PM, midnight, and beyond, we fool our bodies into living in a perpetual state of summer. Anticipating the scarce food supply and forced inactivity of winter, our bodies begin storing fat and slowing metabolism to sustain us through the months of hibernation and hunger that never arrive.
Our own survival instinct, honed over millennia, is now killing us.
Wiley and Formby also reveal:
-That studies from our own government research prove the role of sleeplessness in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility, mental illness, and premature aging; -Why the carbohydrate-rich diets recommended by many health professionals are not only ridiculously ineffective but deadly; -Why the lifesaving information that can turn things around is one of the best-kept secrets of our day.
Lights Out is one wake-up call none of us can afford to miss.
on October 19, 2011
at 01:45 PM
I'm a night owl too. And I don't feel that there's anything wrong with accepting it. It's not a disorder but a different circadian rhythm. It's inconvenient, yes, but not something that can be fixed. I can't use the light therapy anyways b/c unfortunately sunlight and full-spectrum light bulbs make me sleepy. I feel badly that so many of us naturally nocturnal people have been made to feel that there's something wrong with us or that we need psychological help or anything else for that matter. The extreme nocturnal people like myself are rare, but there's nothing wrong with us.
on February 23, 2010
at 12:02 AM
To add to the question: What about tanning salons? I think Matt Metzgar said something positive about them at some point.
on February 21, 2010
at 08:22 PM
I've got this Apollo Health device (produced by Philips) - seems to help with SAD. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apollo-Health-goLITE-M2-Light/dp/B000JPJM5K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=drugstore&qid=1266783548&sr=8-2
The newer Phillips HF3330 model is cheaper.
on February 21, 2010
at 01:16 PM
dr. rosenthal wrote a book called i believe 'the winter blues' which talks about SAD and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. i read it a while ago because my daughter seemed to have SAD. his book had pretty specific suggestions for dealing with sleep disorders and one of the websites for sunboxes he recommends in his book is sunbox.com. i would read the book first.