Disruptions of sleeping patterns are a typical symptom of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as well as a separate problem in their own right.
We have gained vast experience over many years, speaking to people who use our lightboxes to combat sleep problems as well as to clinicians who work with sleep disorders.
The obvious symptoms are:
- Falling asleep early in the evening
- Difficulty in getting to sleep
- Disruption of sleep
- Early morning awakening
Generally, the cause is a disruption of the circadian rhythms (body clock). This could be due to many factors, such as a holiday with a large time change that you were unable to re adapt to the UK time, long term shift work or perhaps an illness.
Whatever the cause, what we do generally find with those who use the lightboxes for purely sleep patterns problems is that the longer you have had the problem the longer it will take to get back to 'normal'.
Light therapy is not a 'quick fix' for sleep disorders but it can in many cases work well given time, and our lightboxes are used by the Sleep Disorders Clinic at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.
How to choose a lightbox
The most important thing is to be realistic about the amount of time you are able to use a lightbox for, for a quicker treatment, a Diamond 4 or Diamond 5 would be a good choice as you can use them for as little as 20 minutes per day. The LitePod or Diamond 2 have longer treatments of around 45 minutes to 1 hour so are better for people who have more time. The LitePod is perfect for using on your desk at work.
When to use a lightbox
This very much depends on the individual and the type of sleep problem they have. The most usual problems are:
Early morning waking
As we grow older our body clocks tend to run too fast, causing us to have only a few hours sleep. This is known as Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome (ASPS) and is characterised by waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep. Such sufferers are normally referred to as 'Larks'.
Some might be able to grab another couple of hours before having to get up, but even they don’t usually need an alarm clock to get them out of bed. Using a lightbox in the evening will slow the body clock back to its normal pattern and so promote sleep throughout the night.
Late Night Insomnia
Those with a weak body clock have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) which means that your body clock has slowed down. They have trouble falling asleep at night and trouble getting up in the morning. Such sufferers are normally referred to as 'Night Owls'.
When the alarm goes off at 7am your body still tells you it's midnight! Bright morning light therapy will speed your body clock and you should given time awake refreshed.
What is also important is to have your bedroom as dark as possible to help the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
Please note that we do suggest that, if you suffer from a serious sleep problem, you should see your doctor, who will be able to refer you to a Sleep Clinic
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