Thursday, April 9, 2009

Your Circadian Rhythm -Friend Or Foe?

By Harold Ulvaeus

Your circadian rhythm and it's level of function is closely connected to insomnia. While it is commonly believed that the circadian rhythm has to do with the time of day, it has a lot to do with the amount of light or darkness. We all have a clock inside that gives us a nudge when it is time to go to sleep for the night and when it is time to get up.

It is this internal clock that is known as the circadian rhythm. Hormones secreted through out the day are governed by this internal clock, and so are body temperature and our level of mental alertness.

Since the circadian rhythm influences alertness and our energy level, for those with have a sleep disorder related to their circadian rhythm, their internal clock is "off" and they tend to feel alert when they should be tired or sleepy, and tired when they should have much energy. This is very common for those working the grave yard shift.

Light, as in bright natural sun light, is one of the largest factors of regulating your circadian rhythm. Not getting enough light for extended periods of time can cause low energy and fatigue. Those in northern climates can readily see this towards the end of the winter.

Light therapy, using special types of light with specific wavelengths simulating natural light can be used to slowly reset the internal clock. The light therapy is easy and pleasant and requires 30-60 minutes of exposure in conjunction with a strict sleeping schedule. The light is usually delivered using specifically designed lights.

The time of day you use your light box is the most important thing to consider. The schedule would depend on your schedule and the type of insomnia you have.

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