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wooltonian
#1 Posted : 18 January 2012 10:12:09(UTC)
wooltonian

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I've been using a light box since 2005 to help initially with depression, but more recently with seasonally-related insomnia. Even though this is now my seventh winter of using the light box, I've always had this nagging feeling that I'm not using it correctly -- I'm not getting the most out of it. Specifically, I never quite feel that I'm using it for the right length of time at the right time(s) of day.

I never usually have a problem falling asleep - I go to bed between 10.00-10.30pm and nod off within 40 minutes or so. My huge bugbear is that I wake up, all guns blazing currently at 2.00am (although this goes through phases -- sometimes it can be 3.00am, but it's always before 4.00am) and struggle to go back to sleep. Even when I eventually drift off again, it's rubbish half-sleep. I rise in the morning feeling drained, forgetful and de-motivated.

Whilst sitting on my light box after breakfast this morning I suddenly had this Eureka! moment. Because I put in a half-hour session so early in the day, (i.e. 8.30-9.00am) am I 'front-loading' my circadian clock, so everything happens too early in my day / night cycle? The 'natural' way of receiving light in the summer months is gradually throughout the day, not all shoved into a half-hour burst after breakfast. Is my light box use doing more harm than good in terms of my sleep pattern? The fact that my time of usage is so rigid and I wake up at exactly the same time every night makes me wonder if there is a connection. I often put in a shorter (10 mins) afternoon session on the light box between 4.00-6.00 (again, I've never quite settled on the right time to do this), but maybe the fact that I do one long session so early in the day over-rides everything else and makes my brain think that daybreak is 2.00am.

AS a result, I'm going to try splitting my morning session into a short (10 minute) session after breakfast, just to get me going, and a longer (20 minute) session around lunchtime. I will report back and let you know if this helps.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this matter? What do you find works best? Have you made any tweaks to your regime and found it helped?

I look forward to your responses.

yours groggily,

wooltonian.
Linda
#2 Posted : 18 January 2012 19:23:32(UTC)
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Yes, I've made adjustments this winter, and now have a second session later in the day - helps me to stay awake in the evenings! I've suffered a lot with insomnia this winter, although I don't think it's connected with the light box. But once depression sets in, and you get into a pattern of early waking and inability to get off to sleep again, it's a hard cycle to break. In the end, I bought a self-hypnosis CD which I use as necessary to get to sleep at night, but it can also be used for situations like yours when you're awake and ready to go at 2 am! I do sympathise - it really is a killer the next day.
Why not just keep experimenting with your times and length of sessions. For what it's worth, I have one session in the morning as soon as I'm up, usually about an hour long, then another half-hour or so mid-to-late afternoon. Another thing I have tried this winter is blue light, and I think that is also more helpful.

Edited by user 18 January 2012 19:24:04(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

wooltonian
#3 Posted : 19 January 2012 15:44:48(UTC)
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Thanks Linda. In the past it's never even occurred to me that having my main light-box session straight after breakfast might be too early in the day and actually be causing my early wakening problem. I always thought that's when you were 'supposed' to do it. From a circadian point of view, it actually makes perfect theoretical sense to use it around the middle of the day i.e. that time of day when you would naturally be exposed to the most intense daylight.

Anyway, for the next ten days I'm going to shift my main light-box session back four hours from 8.30am to 12.30pm and hope that my 2.00am wakening follows suit!

....will report back.
cbhattarai
#4 Posted : 06 February 2012 11:26:41(UTC)
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Thanks
a because this is really some great information that you have shared. Keep it up
wooltonian
#5 Posted : 13 February 2012 18:13:25(UTC)
wooltonian

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Just a quick update... For the past few weeks I've tried splitting my light box use into two or three sessions per day with the longest session around lunchtime and a short session in the morning and mid-afternoon. This seems to have gradually altered my sleep pattern so that although I still wake up two or three times during the night I go back to sleep quicker and sleep sounder. I no longer wake up early in the night (around 2.00am) feeling like it's 'time to get up' and unable to re-settle.

Gradually I have settled on the following times of use:
9.30am - 5-10 minute session
12.30pm - 20-25 minute session
4.30pm - 5-10 minute session

All times are approximate and tend to vary a bit in reality depending on other commitments. On a bright, sunny day I slightly shorten the sessions and on a cloudy day I lengthen the sessions as shown above.

Hope this is useful. Using a light box is an imprecise science and involves a lot of trial and error, but I don't think I will ever go back to having just one half-hour morning session again. I shall post again if anything else happens.
wooltonian
#6 Posted : 17 February 2012 08:23:58(UTC)
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It's still not right. Adding the short afternoon session seems to have put my initial waking up time back to around 2.30am, but this is still waaaay too early. I am going to add a couple of 5-10 minute sessions at around 6.30pm and 7.30 pm to this regime and see if it helps. This involves a lot of daily trips to my light box, but hopefully if it starts to produce results I can look at removing some of the earlier sessions.

will keep you all posted...

Edited by user 17 February 2012 08:27:16(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Linda
#7 Posted : 17 February 2012 11:55:34(UTC)
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Sorry to hear things aren't working out well right now with your light box - and I hope it gets better with further experimentation. If it's any comfort (probably not!) my sleep patterns are all over the place, and I've resorted to sleeping tablets again, hopefully just a temporary measure. One needs to be able to function during the day!

Edited by user 17 February 2012 11:56:13(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

wooltonian
#8 Posted : 24 February 2012 09:55:50(UTC)
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Just a few final thoughts as we start to edge tentatively towards the end of February:

- Although not perfect, my sleep has definitely improved as a result of splitting my sessions up into a short session after breakfast, a main session around 1.00-1.30pm and a short session around 4.30pm.

- Having a morning session helps me get off to sleep at night and improves my 11.00pm - 2.30am sleep.

- Having an early afternoon session seems to improve my sleep in the second half of the night i.e. 2.30am - 6.00am

- Evening sessions don't work. I tried a few 6.00pm - 8.00pm sessions of around 15-20 minutes in length, over a week or so, but these impaired my sleep throughout the night. It felt a bit like getting in late from work and then not being able to relax all night for a proper night's sleep.

- I vary my usage according to how close to the shortest day it is and how cloudy the weather is; also whether I am indoors or outdoors during the day. Now we are into late February (hooooray!!) and being outside on a sunny day yesterday I didn't use my light box at all and slept OK last night. In the depths of late December and if I am inside on a cloudy day then I would obviously increase the time I spend on the light box accordingly.

Wishing you all happy sessions on your respective light-gadgets and a peaceful night's sleep -- and a special thankyou to Linda for all her useful suggestions and support. Roll on Spring!

wooltonian.

Edited by user 24 February 2012 09:58:56(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

wooltonian
#9 Posted : 18 March 2012 19:40:01(UTC)
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I think I've cracked it! Finally. It took seven years of trial and error with light therapy and a helluva lot of working out and then around a month for my sleep pattern to respond and consistently improve, but I am now regularly sleeping through to between 5.00 and 6.00 am and things are starting to look a lot better. The picture is slightly blurred by the fact that I work too hard (with irregular hours and some night work) during the week and drink too much alcohol at weekends, but I have finally found a pattern of using my light box that stops me waking up at 2.00-3.00 am every morning.

I have finally settled upon the following light box regime:

Ten minutes in the morning, usually around 9.30-10.30am

A ten minute session between 12.30 and 1.30pm.

A ten minute session around 3.00-3.30pm.

A five to ten minute session between 4.30 and 5.00pm.

The 12.30-3.30pm period seems especially crucial in terms of reducing night waking and improving sleep quality in the second half of the night. A couple of ten minute sessions either end of this period seem to work wonders!

....so there 'tis. Moral of the story -- spreading light box sessions out during the day, with particular emphasis on early to mid afternoon does the trick for me. I'm looking forward to using what I've learned from week one come the Autumn. Hopefully it will make a big difference.
Linda
#10 Posted : 19 March 2012 15:46:11(UTC)
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So glad to hear you've found what works well for you, wooltonian! And thanks for posting this; I will look back at this thread next autumn with the intention of reviewing my own light therapy. From time to time, I think I have found what works for me, but then it all goes pear-shaped again.

Hope you have a good spring and summer!
wooltonian
#11 Posted : 14 October 2013 18:31:54(UTC)
wooltonian

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Just a quick check in to say hello....and just to give a quick update on how things have moved on for me in terms of light box usage.

I am now a confirmed believer in spreading light box usage throughout the day into short 10 minute sessions. Mornings are an optional extra. I try to go outside and get some light during the morning. Failing that, I may have a 10 minute mid-late morning session on the light box. It starts to become more important for me to start using my light box around 2.30 - 3.00pm. I normally start my ten minute sessions around this time and keep going on an hourly basis (if possible!) right through until 6.00pm. This really helps with sleep in the second half of the night. At weekends I am even thinking about putting in an extra 6.30pm session, which I am hoping will help me to sleep right through until 8.00am. (The Holy Grail!)

Good luck to everyone on this message board and a big hello to Linda in the Hebrides. I know we're heading towards a difficult time of year for all. My advice is - if you're not happy with how your light box is working for you, spread out the sessions...replicate Summer, i.e. light throughout the day right through till late afternoon. Experiment. Try something different.

Edited by user 15 October 2013 13:03:19(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

 3 users thanked wooltonian for this useful post.
Linda on 15/10/2013(UTC), S100 on 17/10/2013(UTC), Summery on 08/11/2013(UTC)
Summery
#12 Posted : 08 November 2013 12:05:07(UTC)
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Hi Wooltonian, am away to order my first light box so your information will be very helpful. Which lightbox are you currently using?
Much thanks.
wooltonian
#13 Posted : 18 November 2013 15:49:04(UTC)
wooltonian

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Hiya Summery. Sorry I am a bit slow responding to your posting. I only come on this board once in a while. I am currently using a unit made by Brite Box that I originally purchased back in 2005. I would like to say that it is still going strong but one of the four fluorescent tubes has gone and another is a bit intermittent. Brite Box are not the SPAMKEYWORDest (their current model retails for around £160) but they are well made and pack a meaty punch in terms of light output (10,000 lux at 15-18 inches distance). If you put their name into google their site will come up. They deliver to your door and will come and take it back again after a 30 day trial if you are not satisfied with it -- full refund, of course.

I hope you have great success with whatever light box you choose to buy. I honestly don't know where I would be without mine. Now that we have these dark, dreary nights drawing in to about 4.00pm I can't imagine my afternoons and early evenings without it.

Good luck! Don't hesitate to ask if you have any more queries.
Coldeunner23
#14 Posted : 10 October 2015 18:14:26(UTC)
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For 2 years the light box cure my insomnia by using it in the morning . But recently I too have recently had a problem with awakening 2 hours after sleeping and un able to return to sleep . This has lead to days with very little sleep . Do you think the constant evening light is better for reversing this or should I try to retrain my body with morning light ?
wooltonian
#15 Posted : 11 October 2015 17:01:59(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Coldeunner23 Go to Quoted Post
For 2 years the light box cure my insomnia by using it in the morning . But recently I too have recently had a problem with awakening 2 hours after sleeping and un able to return to sleep . This has lead to days with very little sleep . Do you think the constant evening light is better for reversing this or should I try to retrain my body with morning light ?


I wouldn't suggest 'constant evening light' as a good idea. That is too much light too late in the day. You could try shortening your morning session and adding a couple of short (5 minute) afternoon sessions, say around 2.30pm and 5.00pm. If you feel that your light box use is not providing a good sleep pattern, my advice would be to experiment a bit and see if you can find a system that works. Adding in a couple of short afternoon session is probably a good starting point, though. Good luck!

Coldeunner23
#16 Posted : 18 October 2015 13:32:24(UTC)
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Ok thanks fo the advice I will definitely try that . How long did it take you to see results? Im starting today with light box use at 10:30 for 10 mins then 20 mins of 3:30 light .
wooltonian
#17 Posted : 19 October 2015 13:29:09(UTC)
wooltonian

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Originally Posted by: Coldeunner23 Go to Quoted Post
Ok thanks fo the advice I will definitely try that . How long did it take you to see results? Im starting today with light box use at 10:30 for 10 mins then 20 mins of 3:30 light .


I saw some improvement in my sleep fairly quickly....I'm tempted to say almost straight away. The problem is that varying the timing of light therapy is not an exact science and there is a fair degree of trial and error. Even now, I find that sometimes I get it right and other times it doesn't seems to work quite as well. There are so many variables (amount of natural daylight, being indoors or outdoors during the day, not having a light box available at certain times, coffee, alcohol etc.) that it constantly feels a bit like a 'work in progress'. However, I know that if I don't get proper afternoon light, either natural or via my light box, then I will wake up at 3.00am and be unable to go back to sleep.

If you can, I would break that afternoon session into 10 minutes at 3.30pm and 10 minutes at 5.00pm. Hope this works for you!

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