Using Light Therapy to Help You Sleep Better
Did you know that light therapy can actually help you sleep better? I know it sounds a little weird to say that light can help you sleep and rest more fully because after all, when we go to bed, we turn out all the lights. But sleep is a programmable state which means you can tell your body when it should and should not be sleeping or awake.
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 work, 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 and actions you take during the day which cause you to sleep restlessly. Alternatively, 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, and 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’re awake, the more ‘sleep pressure’ builds up. Your brain has a kind of timer which tracks how long you have been awake. After 16 to 18 hours of non-sleep, your brain tells your body that it’s time to rest.
The good news is that if your natural sleep cycle has become confused, it can often be remedied effectively with light therapy. Since that sleep timer in your brain equates bright light with being awake, you can reprogram it. A special light box or bank of lights is placed close to you for a certain period of time each day. perfectly mimicking sunlight, which is what people naturally use for programming their sleep-wake cycle.
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 wellness coach, properly-timed light therapy boxes can effectively reduce or even eliminate your insomnia. It would just be a case of incorporating these bright lights into your daily schedule for a set number of weeks or months.
You first need to become aware of your natural sleep cycle, so make sure you speak with your doctor or health coach before you attempt to use light therapy boxes on your own.