light therapy sleep wake cycle

How to Fix Your Sleep-Wake Cycle using Light Therapy

Light is the main Zeitgeber (German for “time giver”) and it keeps our circadian rhythms on track so that our daily sleep, wake, and hunger routines are aligned.
Even though we continue to learn more and more about the human sleep/wake cycle (the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded for discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm), many of us seem to be increasingly ‘out of sync’, struggling with poor sleep during the night and fatigue during the day.

The 24/7 culture

Our modern lifestyles, 24/7, year-round activity combined with the lack of sufficient exposure to natural daylight and over-exposure to blue-light emitting devices late in the day confuse our body clocks immensely. This chronic confusion leads to insomnia and increased fatigue. Keeping a regular sleep/wake cycle and getting plenty of sleep at night are the best and most natural prerequisites for maintaining healthy levels of energy throughout the day. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to experience fatigue in the afternoons, among a host of potential health complications. Tools are available to rebalance our screen addiction and indoor lifestyles. Using a sleep/wake-up light and a bright light therapy lamp can help keep your body clock co-ordinated to the 24-hour day. Devices such as Lumie Bodyclock have been designed to minimise alerting blue light at night-time while the gradual sunset simulation promotes a natural sleep response as the fading light serves as a cue for our bodies to increase the production of sleep hormones (such as melatonin).
Lumie bodyclock sleep wake cycle Lumie's bodyclock mimics morning sunrise to help you wake up naturally

Wake up happy

In 1993, on the back of early research into dawn simulation and its effect on mood and waking, Lumie developed the world’s first wake up light. Ever since, lights form the Lumie Bodyclock range have been proving popular among many: not just those who struggle with seasonal affective disorder and winter blues, but also athletes and commuters. Waking up with a brightening sunrise has been shown to improve the quality of awaking, mood and energy levels. Programmed over a 30 or 45 minute period, Lumie's dawn simulation prepares your body for the wake-up call before you know it. Your eyes are able to pick up the slowly increasing levels of light through your closed eyelids. This serves as a signal for your brain to supress melatonin production and allow for the ‘get up and go’ hormones to kick in (such as cortisol, the secretion of which peaks at 6-8 am). As a result, when you actually do open your eyes, you feel properly awake and much more at the ready to take on the day.

Managing your energy during the day

For optimum mood and energy, we all need light to our eyes as bright as a spring morning on a clear day for around 30 minutes a day and the light must be at least 2,000 lux (the technical measure of brightness). That's roughly four times brighter than a well-lit office! And while we all would prefer to have a corner office, or work in a beautiful, bright, open space, the reality is that many offices not only have little to no access to daylight but are also very poorly lit.
A window facing work station will help regulate your sleep-wake cycle
Bright light has been shown to immediately increase levels of alertness, boost mood and improve performance. So if you tend to feel sleepy during the day restless at night, having a light box (such as Lumie's Vitamin L) at your desk at work could directly help to improve the way you feel. And while it’s worth sticking to using a light therapy lamp daily, it’s important to also make sure to get outside as much as possible – even a short lunchtime walk at work will contribute to re-aligning your sleep/wake cycle! For more info on how to use light therapy for better sleep, read Lumie’s guide to light therapy.