Using Light Therapy to Help You Sleep Better 498 words
Did you know that light therapy can actually help you sleep better? It sounds a little weird to say that light can help you sleep and rest more fully. After all, when human beings go to bed, they turn out all the lights in the room in which they are sleeping. But sleep is a programmable state. So you can tell your body when it should and should not be sleeping or wakeful.
That is the premise behind the practice of light therapy for battling insomnia. Sleep cycles differ for everyone. And your particular circadian rhythm probably has a lot to do with your genetic makeup. But because of influences from our jobs, families, friends and hobbies, we can often push ourselves out of our natural sleep rhythm cycle. And that is where light therapy comes in.
Insomnia is often a reflection of habits you have and actions you take which cause you to sleep restlessly. And you may be a morning person stuck on the night shift, or a night owl that has to get up very early in the morning to head off to work. So you end up battling insomnia. Light therapy helps out by “tricking” the sleep monitor in your brain which equates bright light with waking activity.
The longer that you are awake, the more that “sleep pressure” builds up. Basically, your brain has a timer which tracks how long you have been awake. After 16 to 18 hours of non-sleep, your brain tells your body that it is time to rest. The good news is, if you have somehow jumbled up your natural sleep cycle, it can often times be returned effectively with light therapy.
Here is how it works. Since that sleep timer in your brain equates bright light with being awake, you can effectively reprogram it. A special light box or bank of lights is placed close to you for a certain period of time each day. These special lights perfectly mimic sunlight, which naturally programs human beings for sleeping and waking.
The physical, behavioral and mental changes that run through a 24-hour cycle are reset using these bright lights. When working with your doctor or sleep coach, light therapy boxes used consistently, and properly timed, can effectively reduce or even eliminate your insomnia episodes.
This will mean incorporating bright lights into your daily schedule for a set number of weeks or months. But millions of insomniacs have become used to this treatment, and you can too if you want to fall to sleep badly enough.
You first need to become aware of your natural sleep cycle. That is why it is important to talk to a doctor or sleep therapist before you attempt to use light therapy boxes on your own.
Available in stores and online, light therapy treatments might even be covered by your insurance. Speak with your physician today about the possibility of using light therapy to help you fall to sleep faster, and sleep more fitfully.