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Light boxes / light therapy for depression and sleep disorders

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mammaP

I swear by my light box and know about it if I miss using it for a few days. Mine is a dawn simulator 

and the light comes up slowly over 30 minutes in the morning, it dims down over 30 minutes at bedtime too.

 

Now will someone try to educate my brain that this means it has to go to sleep!!  ;)

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compsports

I decided to purchase one from Amazon due to not being able to find other one I previously purchased a few years ago.    Stared using it last night for 45 minutes in the evening since I want to go to sleep too early.

 

Unfortunately, after nearly sleeping 3 hours and getting back to sleep after a wakeup, I was awakened by the stupid alarm in the light therapy lamp that I didn't realize I had to disable.   Being hypersensitive, I had a horrific time getting back to sleep again and feel like cr-p.

 

But I will continue what I started last night and see what happens without being awakened by the alarm.

 

To be continued.

 

CS

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compsports

New sleep doctor proposed doing what I tried to in April but didn't stick with.   He also wants me to take melatonin in AM after my last wakeup and wear blue blocker glasses for the first few hours after sunrise.  Sleep on machine has worsened.

 

Emailed him to find out if he could shed some light as to what was going on.

 

Needless to say, I am beyond frustrated and extremely disheartened. :(

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Barbarannamated

New sleep doctor proposed doing what I tried to in April but didn't stick with. He also wants me to take melatonin in AM after my last wakeup and wear blue blocker glasses for the first few hours after sunrise. Sleep on machine has worsened.

 

Emailed him to find out if he could shed some light as to what was going on.

 

Needless to say, I am beyond frustrated and extremely disheartened. :(

Why melatonin in AM?

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compsports

Go

 

 

New sleep doctor proposed doing what I tried to in April but didn't stick with. He also wants me to take melatonin in AM after my last wakeup and wear blue blocker glasses for the first few hours after sunrise. Sleep on machine has worsened.

Emailed him to find out if he could shed some light as to what was going on.

Needless to say, I am beyond frustrated and extremely disheartened. :(


Why melatonin in AM?

 

Good question Barb.  I think it helps push my body clock back in the evening supposedly along with the light therapy in the evening.   But I am wondering if taking it is contributing to the worsening sleep on the machine.

 

Interestingly, as an alternative, he suggested that I could take 5 to 10mg of extended release melatonin before bedtime.   That makes less sense to me because in the past, when I have taken a very small amount before bedtime, it has led to horrific sleep on the machine.   That is why I wonder if this mid early am melatonin dose is messing up things.

 

Heck, I guess I should be grateful he wasn't proposing another sleep med but this is beyond absurd. 

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mammaP

I am a bit surprised at the melatonin in the morning and light box in the evening.

I was advised not to use mine in the evening because the brain need to start winding down and

the light therapy is stimulating. It would be very interesting to hear what his reasons are.

Not saying he's wrong, but I'd like to know because I am a terrible insomniac! 

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compsports

Hi mamap,

 

The theory is because I want to fall asleep between 6 and 7pm, that doing light therapy in the evening will eventually delay the time that my body wants to fall asleep which will lead to better sleep.   Taking melatonin in the AM also helps shift the body clock.  He calls it advanced phase syndrome even though I don't think I completely meet the diagnosis.

 

There is some thought that the light therapy is the key to the whole process and that taking melatonin is not helpful.  If I continue to have problems tonight, i may see what happened the next night when I don't take it.  I honestly think that could be causing my problems.

 

Interestingly, after I finished the light therapy, I was ready to go to bed immediately.   Obviously, my body said otherwise.

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Wildflower0214

you might want to be careful about light therapy if you have become sensitive. I used one and it gave me awful anxiety. It seems that what works for one can harm another. So, just be careful.

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compsports

Thanks Wildflower.   So far, no anxiety which is probably due to my severe sleep deprivation.

 

I could be wrong but I suspect this Doctor's advice is good for people who have plain old sleep maintenance insomnia.   It is not totally useful for folks like me who also have pap therapy tolerance issues.

 

CS

Edited by JanCarol
continuity - name reference

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compsports

Well, my suspicions are confirmed light therapy works great for sleep maintenance insomnia but not so great for pap therapy tolerance.  Last night, I woke up after my usual 3 hours of sleep on the machine.    I had used machine for an hour in the evening.

 

After being up for close to an hour, tried going back to sleep on mask and couldn't tolerate it.   As soon as I took mask off, went right back to sleep for 3.5 more hours without even taking melatonin.

 

Not sure what next steps are but this definitely gives me some important information.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

We have other topics referencing 'Light Therapy' which maybe ought to be combined into this one. It is the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) time of year for some of us and this morning I was reading about light devices from phillips. I found this video and the thought occurred to me "How do people get jobs like this?"

 

 

I have one of their tiny portable blue light boxes and I have been feeling so well lately that I have not even thought to try it. Be careful if you do begin light therapy, go slow and do it at the proper time of day. It can cause mania in some people and may exacerbate insomnia if used incorrectly. Light therapy can be used to alleviate SAD and reset a wonky body clock, but its results may not be predictable in acute wd (that condition of extreme autonomic dysfunction seems to trump everything!) so ymmv.

 

Here's a great site about the different sleep disorders and methods of treatment, and here too. There are many more. List your faves in this topic. I think there's a lot of credible research out there regarding therapy for sleep disorders but use your own judgement. There is a lot of snake oil too in some cases. You can see CS's struggle with regulating her sleep in this and other topics and realize that for some, when the sleep cycle gets broken it is very hard to fix.

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compsports

You listed some great sites CW.

 

Even though I think I am past withdrawal although it is hard to say for sure, I still think my issues with pap therapy intolerance and being in a hightened state of sensitivity are quite similar.   As a result, as you excellent infer, we are not the typical patients even though sadly, sleep doctors/doctors assume that we are.

 

Current sleep doctor suggested using it to stay awake when I said the sleep restriction therapy wasn't a good idea since I could barely stay awake until 9pm and had fallen asleep standing agains the well.   She didn't seem to believe me when told I told her using it had put me to sleep.

 

As I previously mentioned in another thread, using the lamp in the morning seemed to be quite helpful for awhile but then it is almost like I got diminishing returns.   The sleep specialist I saw who recommended doing it in the evening said it was typical that things would get worse before getting better.  I will let you all be the judge of that.

 

I would definitely second your advice to be very careful if you decide to use light therapy.   It would be preferable to work with a doctor who was knowledgeable about this therapy but judging from my experience, finding someone helpful may be quite tough.

 

If you decide to purchase a device on your own, I would make sure it has a 30 day money back guarantee as 3 weeks (need to allow one week for returning it) should give you enough time to have some idea if this will work or not.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

The phillips site quotes some studies on light therapy here. Scroll down the page to see them.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

Current sleep doctor suggested using it to stay awake when I said the sleep restriction therapy wasn't a good idea since I could barely stay awake until 9pm and had fallen asleep standing agains the well.   She didn't seem to believe me when told I told her using it had put me to sleep.

 

Against the wall??!!!!! Wow, that sure is a symptom of sleep 'deprivation'  if I ever saw one.

 

The thing that I have seen mentioned that intrigues me is shining the light on the backs of the knees as an alternative to having it hit your eyeballs. I found a link that said that we get all if the Vit D we need by exposing our body to the sun for 10 min each day between the hours of 10a and 2p four times a week. If you want to combine that 'therapy' into 'light' therapy, you need to make sure you don't cover your eyeballs. Lying on your stomach in the sun would solve that problem. The light would then hit the backs of your knees but I don't know how any of this might work. One of those articles on one of those sites talks about the 'body clock' being located in the SCN area of the brain, wherever that is. I though the light hitting the eyeballs (you never look directly at the sun or a therapy light box) involved the pineal gland. So much to learn!

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compsports

Well, I foolishly didn't heed my own advice and started using light therapy at 6pm.    The first night I was encouraged because even though my sleep was broken and still crappy, at least I slept more hours than usual.

 

But last night, I didn't even sleep 2 hours initially and woke up in an extremely hyperactive mode and had a very hard time getting back to bed.  Having a noisy neighbor didn't help but I was so wired that I had to force myself to eat almonds to get drowsy even though I wasn't hungry.

 

Anyway, I found this exert that seems to suggest at least for me, using it too late is not a good thing even if allegedly following this type of practice helps people with my advanced phase syndrome type of sleeping pattern improve their sleep.

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/201101/light-therapy-0

 

 

Even though light therapy is generally very safe, negative effects can occur. Light therapy for depression and delayed sleep phase is typically given in the morning. If light therapy is given at night, it can cause insomnia and hyperactivity.

I am beginning to realize that for me, using light therapy is like consuming supplements that seem to help initially and then go south as far as effectiveness.   Very frustrating.

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Solang

I am wondering if anyone else has had to stop tapering during the fall and winter?  I've always felt more depressed in fall and winter (I guess from Seasonal Affective Disorder), but this year, in combination with the taper, it's getting really scary.  I've tried blue light therapy but it didn't seem to do much if anything.  At this point I'm planning not to reduce my dose again until May.  And then maybe it will be an annual thing: I can only taper from May to November and then I have to hold steady.  Of course this doubles the length of my taper schedule (sigh) but it's better safe than sorry!

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compsports

Hi Solang,

I didn't stop during the fall and winter when I was tapering.   But if that works best for you, that is what you have to do.  I agree it is better to be safe than sorry.

 

CS

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Solang

Hi Compsports,

Thanks for your reply.  After reading this whole thread I'm going to try to find my bluelight therapy box and give it a try again.  Don't recall it working well in the past, but it's worth a shot.

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Rockingchaircat
* merged with a pre-existing thread

 

I just wanted to share something with everyone else.  The last month or so I was dropping back down into wave after wave of anxiety to the point of severe depression again.  Researching it- I seemed to be susceptible to Seasonally Affective Disorder. Big surprise- not on antidepressant anymore...

 

I ruminated about getting a lightbox, but every online MD warning seemed to make it sound like they're made of plutonium.  And that one shouldn't even look at them on the store shelf without having a medically trained (read expensive) doctor nearby to protect  you from it's evil influences. (Ok I'm exaggerating a bit).

 

Well my wife got me one and I put it to use immediately.  All I can say: OMFG!!!  It's use has done me a world of Good!  3.5 days ago I was giving serious thought to going back onto an antidepressant- negative problems and all.  Now- I'm flabbergasted at my improvement. I tried to remain skeptical about how well it was doing from an almost immediate improvement. Within an hour of it's use- I was doing a workout and dancing to some music between reps.

I've slept every night- damned well.

And the last two nights- I've had something I've not felt in a VERY long time: refreshed. I've woken up- refreshed. I'm full of energy.

Now I do still have some anxiety going on- but it's well within being a smidgen of the amount before. I've got so many chores around the house and grounds- and now I've got the wherewithal to do them.

 

I highly recommend one for all of you suffering from depression. For those of you considering getting onto an antidepressant, and for those of you getting off of an antidepressant. I don't know if it will help  you. All I do know- is it helped me immensely. I cannot keep silent about something that may help someone else. And it doesn't cost much (roughly) and the side effects? I think I'm starting to get some tan on my skin.

 

Consider it.

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compsports

That is fantastic rockingchaircat.   When do you use it and for how long and at what intensity?

 

Thanks!

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Rockingchaircat

I've been using it twice a day. Morning upon getting up, and late afternoon. 30 minutes each. I use the higher of the two settings in the morning, and the lower of the two in the evening.

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Shep

I'm very happy to read this is working for you, Rockingchaircat.

 

I use a Sunbox, but only for 15 minutes in the morning. Anything more and I get very anxious.

 

I tried it a year ago and found it too stimulating and it irritated my eyes, but the farther off I am from the drugs, the better it works. 

 

I have a really old Sunbox that was "prescribed" to me by a psychiatrist a number of years ago, but it simply didn't work when I was loaded up on a cocktail of drugs.

 

I have a small cataract in my left eye, and these kinds of lights may be irritating (and possibly harmful) if you have certain types of eye problems, but so far just 15 minutes seems to be okay. 

 

I recently came across this really good article about how light boxes work:

 

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/01/26/light-therapy-promising-for-treating-major-depression.aspx

 

Note that the article mentions the fact that antidepressants can actually make depression chronic, meaning light therapy should be something to try first. I know I wish I had. . . . 

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Rockingchaircat

I appreciate whomever attached mine to this. No need to duplicate after all.  And I too wish I had tried light therapy first. 

The best thing Shep- is that one has control over the 'dosage' of light therapy. We can all manage ours. For  you 15 minutes is your limit. If you go over- you get anxious and you can taper down with no ill effect. As opposed to weeks/months of withdrawal symptoms for the chemical dosage.

 

And yes, those chemicals we ingest- have and are documented as increasing the possibility of not only depression but also suicidal ideation. I get too much light therapy- I get some sunburn. Big Deal.

 

I can see why both the Pharma companies and the Medico/pushers like to denigrate these things.  I'm surprised they're still legal. (Cheap, very effective, and we don't have to rely on the mega-profit driven medical establishment).

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Rockingchaircat

So I'm guessing from what Shep has to say- is that the best a lightbox can be for is after one has been off of the drugs for a while. I have to agree. 

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Rockingchaircat

For those who are interested I have been using a Verilux (appropriately named) Happy Light. http://www.verilux.com/light-therapy-lamps/happylight-6000/

I've been using it twice a day- 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes in the evening. I followed the manuals recommendation- kept within 1-2 feet of my eyes, above eye level and off to one side. Go for one about 10,000 lumen/lux. And be sure it's a full spectrum light.  Bascially it sits next to my computer viewscreen.

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Rockingchaircat

01/22/2016.

I'm inclined to agree with those who've used them or those who have medical recommendations: One doesn't need the full dose all of the time.

I've gone from the 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening- to a 15 minute session in the morning.  And this morning I'd completely forgot to turn it on.  That may have something to do with pretty damned good night's sleep I had last night. 
How nice to be able to change the dosage and have an almost immediate effect- sans massive stress for weeks/months.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
reformatted

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Rockingchaircat

I have noticed a change in effect. Since it is approaching a full spring, the rain is lessening to some extent. Which allows me to get out and 'enjoy' sunshine more often. On such rainy gloomy days as I have now- the lightbox is integral. But on sunny days- it can leave me too wired, too anxious.

 

Right now I only use it in the morning on what promises to be a gloomy day. During some of my windows- I'd forgotten to use it at all. 

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Shep

I'm not using my lightbox now. I stopped a couple of weeks ago after the time changed and it's lighter longer. I don't seem to be "craving" light like I was.

 

I'm also walking more in the evening since the weather is better, and that seems to help. 

 

I like your idea of using it on gloomy days, Rockingchaircat. I actually never thought about using a lightbox "as needed", but hey, if it works, why not? 

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Brandy

Just read this article in the L.A. Times and have no idea if the product mentioned works, but since so many people here have insomnia and/or take melatonin supplements (I don't have insomnia myself) I thought I'd post the link. The light "clock" certainly might be a scam, or more likely just plain ineffective, so I'm certainly not suggesting people purchase it. Just thought it might be of interest and that people who know more about insomnia might have some insight as to whether this "alarm clock" might potentially help some people here: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-wake-up-to-light-20160326-story.html

 

Brief excerpt from the article  (fourth paragraph; full article explains a bit more fully):

 

Before rest, users touch the lamp to begin the 20-minute pre-sleep process: The lamp glows red, indicating long light wavelengths to encourage secretion of melatonin, then gradually darkens. In the morning, the light shines blue with shorter wavelengths, decreasing the secretion of melatonin. Think: simulated sunrise.

 

 

(Just for the record, I not only have no financial interest in this device, I never heard of it til I was reading the Times because I'm sleepy (!) and wanted to avoid working on my tax returns lol.)

 

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ChessieCat

I suggest you google:  "Aura alarm clock review" before rushing out to buy it.

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JanCarol

The Philips chook video = derivative!  

 

PBS did it first:  Stay Curious:

 

Corporate robbery - only they made a stunt out of it.

 

I agree with CW - how does one get the job of "waking the rooster up?"

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JanCarol

Just making a couple of notes on excellent articles that I refer to often regarding light boxes - 

 

remember - the flip side of light therapy

 

is dark therapy.

 

Both are required for a healthy sleep / wake / cortisol cycle.

http://psycheducation.org/treatment/bipolar-disorder-light-and-darkness/

 

http://psycheducation.org/treatment/bipolar-disorder-light-and-darkness/light-therapies-for-depression/

 

http://psycheducation.org/treatment/bipolar-disorder-light-and-darkness/dark-therapy/

 

(please don't mind his focus on "bipolar disorder," at least, as a psychiatrist, he is seeking alternatives to drugs, even if his paradigm is sitting square on DSM diagnoses)

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Happy2Heal

I swear by my light box and know about it if I miss using it for a few days. Mine is a dawn simulator 

and the light comes up slowly over 30 minutes in the morning, it dims down over 30 minutes at bedtime too.

 

Now will someone try to educate my brain that this means it has to go to sleep!!  ;)

 

WHAT light box did you get?

 

never mind you said you got a dawn stimulotor

 

my vision is very bad today

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Happy2Heal

I'm not using my lightbox now. I stopped a couple of weeks ago after the time changed and it's lighter longer. I don't seem to be "craving" light like I was.

 

I'm also walking more in the evening since the weather is better, and that seems to help. 

 

I like your idea of using it on gloomy days, Rockingchaircat. I actually never thought about using a lightbox "as needed", but hey, if it works, why not? 

 

what light box did you get?

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manymoretodays

I use a Verilux called "Happy Lite" purchased at Costco years ago.  It was around $40.00 at the time.  The one at the Amazon link you gave looks really similar.  I keep it several feet away on the low setting and yah........I think it helps with my winter waxing energy.

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