For decades, doctor's have recommended light therapy for
treating mood and sleep problems. This
is because a center in your brain's hypothalamus (called the body clock) uses
the light found in natural sunlight to regulate sleep, wake, and energy
cycles. If you struggle with sleep,
mood, or energy, your body may not be responding properly to normal light
Problems with Sleep - (Our Modern Lifestyle is Part of the Problem)
Our lifestyles have changed dramatically over the last
several decades. We are experiencing
longer workdays and we spend most of our leisure time indoors. In fact, studies show that adults across
America are spending less than one hour outdoors each day, far less than in the
The problem is that the center in our brain that regulates
sleep depends on signals like bright sunlight at dawn and weak sunlight at dusk
to know when to tell us to wake up and go to sleep. Our current lifestyles just don't allow us to
get these needed signals anymore.
Each of us has an internal body clock called the
Suprachaismatic Nucleus that regulates daily sleep/wake patterns (also known as
circadian rhythm). The body clock
depends on these light signals to function properly each day. When we don't get these signals, our
sleep/wake patterns suffer.
The Benefits of Sleep
There’s nothing more refreshing than a good night’s sleep.
It renews your energy, makes you more alert and provides important benefits for
your mind and body. You need adequate sleep to be alert during the day to
perform your best.
These benefits include improving your mood and energy. After
a good night’s sleep, you’ll have a boost in mood and energy, and after
establishing a good sleeping routine, you’ll also feel better.
Controlling Your Sleep Schedule
Light helps control your sleep schedule. However, you can
get a little out of whack with the demands of modern schedules. This can occur
during the winter when you need to wake up while it is still dark outside or
due to other schedule issues such as shift work.
Without early morning light signaling you to wake up, you
may have a hard time getting out of bed. You may experience winter doldrums—where
you feel sleepier during the winter months when daylight hours are shortened.
Evening shift work and other irregularities can also put you at odds with your
body’s natural tendency to feel sleepy when it is dark and energized during the
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