Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Light Therapy as an Option for Depression and SAD

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2009

Many people are looking toward ways of treating health issues without taking medication. One of more interesting alternatives to people with depression or rhythm disorders is light therapy. This therapy is not for everyone, but it gives an option to people with seasonal affective disorder, shift workers and those who might need to try different therapies in addition to traditional therapy.

Recently studies on the effects of Light Therapy have gotten a little more support. It is showing that light may have an effect on melatonin production, serotonin production and circadian rhythms. The idea is that you mimic sunlight and keep your body on the same rhythm all year long.

The first therapy is a dawn simulator that allows a person to wake up as the light gets more intense. It is a much gentler form of waking and the simulation is similar to summer light. This might help those who have a issues with the winter’s weaker light and shorter days. The idea of a gentler way to wake up also may help start the day in a calmer manner. There is very little in the way of studies for this type of therapy, however since the lights are inexpensive and there is no evidence that they are have any adverse effects.

The other source is a light box. There are several types of these including white light boxes, blue light boxes and green light boxes. The most popular currently are white and blue light. They are used in the morning based on your body’s Melatonin cycle to help to regulate your body’s Circadian rhythm. The most recent studies have found that the blue light works as well as the white light but is much smaller and portable. These lights should be up above your head for your eyes to process it properly. It should be used for 30-60 minutes depending on what is recommended for you.

There are some potential side effects to this type of therapy. You should not look into the light and it has been associated with Macular Degeneration. You can also have too much exposure which can cause mania in some people, especially those with Manic Depression.

The idea of using light to treat depression has not been pursued by many researchers currently. There are some small studies that have been shown that this can be a very effective treatment for depression. It is also a good choice for those who wish to try other therapies before trying medication. There are small, inexpensive boxes available online. Like all therapies you should discuss this with your physician or therapist before trying it.

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What our eyes tell us

Posted by amykr on January 10, 2009

As we get older we notice many changes to our bodies. The need for reading glasses being one of them. The other one being that we just do not sleep as well as we used to. Well these two issues may very well be connected. In a study done at University of Kansas by Dr. Patricia Turner M. D., “as the eye ages the pupil gets small and the lens absorbs more light. These two issues work together to decrease circadian photoreception” A fancy way of saying the eye is not as able to absorb different spectrums of light then it used to be. So the part of the eye that helps regulate our bodies just does not work as well.

This inability to judge absorb adequate light can lead to problems such as insomnia depression, or other issues.

So would I bring up this problem if I did not have an answer for you to help you. It appears according to this article that indoor lighting might be a contributor to the problem because it is not as bright and it is heavier on the blue spectrum of light. One thing that might help if you are having issues of insomnia or depression is to go outside. The light outside is brighter it has all the light spectrum so it will allow you to absorb more of the light you need. A second thing you can do is make sure your eyes are as healthy as can be. Go see an optometrist once a year. Lastly if your vision is poor and you seem to be having issues you might want to talk to your doctor about Melatonin supplements.

It is always interesting how research seems to prove the ideas our mothers used to tell us. Like go outside and play, you will feel better and sleep better.

Turner, P, Mainster, M. Circadian Photoreception: Ageing and the Eye’s Important Role in Systemic Health. British Journal of Ophthalmology. Posted on Medscape 12/26/2008. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/582906_print

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