The Importance of Morning Light Exposure and What it Can Do for Your Sleep
A dose of bright light first thing in the morning can really go a long way for any individual and can even make all of the difference in your ability to get to sleep at night. If you have never heard of bright light therapy, it can be exactly what you are looking for and just the thing you need to not only feel more awake during the day but to get better sleep at night. As the name suggests, bright light therapy uses light exposure to help set your internal clock.
Your Circadian Rhythm
Light therapy is most commonly used as a treatment for people who struggle with circadian rhythm sleep disorders. What are circadian rhythms? Your body has an internal clock that tells you when it is time to be asleep and when it is time to be awake. These rhythms control alertness, body temperature and the daily cycle of many of your different hormones.
More importantly, these rhythms are what will make you feel alert or sleepy at certain times of the day, every day. When these rhythms are off, and your natural sleep times overlap with your “awake” time, it can make you debilitatingly tired during your normal activities during your “awake” hours such as work or school.
There are a few different things that can “set” your internal clock. One of these things is the exposure to bright sunlight. This is where light therapy comes in. You can set your internal clock by mixing bright light exposure first thing in the morning and combining them with healthy sleeping patterns. This dual-approach can help “re-set” an internal clock or rhythm that is off.
In addition to helping with sleep patterns, light therapy has also been used to help with your mood and can actually be used to put people in a better mood. In fact, this type of light therapy can be so effective, that some adults (particularly seniors) use it during the winter to help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a common condition, often times called the “winter blues” that can have people feeling the signs of depression during certain times of the year.
How Does Light Therapy Work?
With light therapy, your eyes are exposed to bright and intense, yet safe amounts of light for a specific and regular length of time. A doctor that specializes in sleep disorders can help you determine the exact time you should expose yourself to light therapy. Most studies have shown that one half hour of very bright light first thing in the morning after waking is ideal. In some areas, you may be able to use natural, bright sunlight. If the natural sunlight doesn’t work with your prescribed exposure schedule, you can use artificial bright light lamps sold by such companies as Circadian Optics or SunBox.
This therapy includes exposure to bright light in the morning and darkness in the evening before you go to bed. This not only means sleeping with the lights down, but not sleeping with the television or other lights on either.
Light exposure therapy is a very powerful and very common tool that can be used to help change your life for the better. The best part is that this therapy not only works and works well, but it is a natural therapy that doesn’t come with any dangerous side effects or symptoms, which means you can use this type of therapy with confidence knowing that it won’t cause you any additional or unnecessary harm.
If you deal with SAD, moodiness, issues sleeping, or feel as though your sleep cycle is off, light exposure first thing in the morning can be just the solution you have been looking for to help you find the change you have been looking for.
Lori Thomas ─ SeniorAdvice.com