Circadian Sleep Disorders Network - Advocating for people with misaligned body clocks
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A Path to Successful Light Therapy

by Clancie Shorter

The starting step was — find out when you naturally wake up. When that is firmly established set your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier (so you should be on the verge of waking anyway) Get light for 90 minutes. Do this for at LEAST three days (I did four)

Second step - now set your alarm and get up 30 minutes earlier. Get 90 minutes of light. Do this for at least three days.

By now you should be getting some feedback from you body...getting up is easier, you get a vague sleepy feeling at night (though it'll still be quite late)

At night there is no strict bed time...but you really need to nurture any sleepy feelings in the early days. I'd say "I feel kinda a little sleepy I guess" and instead of waiting till I was really sleepy I'd put myself to bed and sometimes I'd lie there but often to my surprise I'd actually doze off.

After that you just continue to step, in half an hour blocks — an hour step is actually the largest you can do but my doc doesn't recommend it...the slower/more incrementally you can do it the larger the chance for success. Do that till you reach your ideal wake time...

The first step is trickiest. I thought I was waking earlier than I was — therefore obviously I was getting light at the wrong time...(I only tracked 4 days to figure out the time and they were interrupted. So obviously the more accurate you can be with your wake time the better)

If you really can't wake 15 minutes before you normally do I'd suggest getting light when you do naturally wake (for three days or more) then trying to step half an hour back after that.

Light therapy isn't easy and its a very long process to get going with sadly no short cuts...but once it's like magic. :)

To be honest I view my sleep as some kinda wild beast. It was completely wild at the start and while I can train it to some extent, it's never going to take (as it's wild and doesn't like the Rules). The best I can hope for, is it gets used to what I want it to do (and begrudgingly accepts that). Really, all I can do is keep it at bay and going in the right direction with my stick (light) rather than letting it become my master. I appreciate that there is science behind it and the techniques I use come from that science...But there is also a fair bit of feel and intuition for what's going on, as well as there is so much we are yet to factually understand.

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Last modified Apr 20, 2022
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