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If you want to sleep well, first you must see the light.


If you want to sleep well, first you must see the light.

This is not an ancient Chinese proverb. Rather, it’s simply a statement of biological fact. Our body clocks require regular, predictable exposure to light if they are to stay in a healthy day/night pattern which allows us to sleep well overnight and feel fully awake during daylight hours.


Unfortunately for many of us, the requirements of work (indoors) and the availability of big screen televisions mean that we don’t get enough light exposure when we need it, in the morning, and then get too much light exposure at night. For some of us this can translate to significant sleep difficulties. Usually this is experienced as insomnia: inability to get to sleep or stay asleep. Almost always there is associated tiredness and sleepiness in the daytime which is usually attributed to lack of sleep at night but is often exacerbated by body-clock (circadian rhythm) disruption. As much as it is possible to sleep badly, it’s also possible to ‘wake badly’ if your body clock is not fully switched on.


At Sleep Health Group we often use ‘light therapy’ to assist people suffering from sleep disorders to make sure that their body clock is fully operational. This therapy is most helpful for people suffering from body clock disorders, such as delayed sleep phase sleep disorder, and shift work sleep disorder. Often, however, people who are suffering from insomnia also benefit. Occasionally we have also seen benefit in individuals with narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea, presumably because even people with those problems can also have impaired body clocks.


We’ve been using Retimer light therapy for a long time. These devices are reliable, robust, simple and effective. But recently we’ve been experimenting with Ayo light therapy. Ayo wearable light therapy is sleek and really well designed. It delivers blue / turquoise light rather than the green light that Retimer’s use. Ayo also communicates with your smart phone via Bluetooth, and utilises a clever Smart-phone App. The programs included in the App will help you time light therapy if, for example, you want to use light therapy to help your body clock adjust before a long-haul flight so that jet-lag is minimised. So far, we’ve been impressed by this new device.


Often individuals with body-clock problems require intermittent use of light therapy. It can therefore be important to purchase a device that you can use from time to time. Either of the devices mentioned in this post would be worth a look. (This advice has not been solicited by the manufacturers and we have no financial interest in either device).

If you have chronic issues with difficulties sleeping, you can book an appointment to see one of Sleep Health Group's sleep physicians in Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Warrnambool or Hamilton.

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