If you asked me how I felt getting out of bed just 1 week before I started using my light box, here's the blank stare I would have given you:
But after a few morning breakfasts in front of my Philips GoLite Blu, I felt more like:
Mornings have just always been tough for me. Add to that a decade or so's worth of late nights in front of the computer and generally low natural-light-exposure teamed up to turn me into a night owl --who was struggling to adapt to a normal-person-schedule (cue sad trombone). To date, I've tried:
But these didn't cut it.
With the exception of caffeine (I'm too sensitive) or kids (which I hear can be great motivators), I felt like I had tried the things that would have given me the best chance of waking up ready to go... with no luck. The more I dug into the biology & physiology behind sleep, the more I realized one thing:
Humans have evolved over thousands and thousands of years, and we have developed a pretty robust set of biological systems catered to the environment in which we live. One such system is our biological clock, which tells us when we should be energized & awake VS. sedate & sleepy.
One major driver of this biological clock is - yep you guessed it - LIGHT (via photoreceptor cells in our retina that regulate non-visual responses to light, for all my fellow nerds out there). So when the first commercially practical light bulb lit up in 1879 (thanks to Mr. Edison), we opened up a whole can of biological "WTF?"
No longer would the sun be sole proprietor of natural hormone release that helps us regulate our sleep/wake balance (melatonin to help us fall asleep, serotonin to help us get moving in the morning).
On top of that, all these crazy ideas about man now being like a machine--able to turn on and off at the flip of a switch, his body fine-tuned to increase productivity and usefulness, and work 24/7-- didn't help much either. No wonder the workers of the world started to unite!
I had just about resigned myself to my fate when Steve@Zeo, our resident sleep scientist, suggested I try getting a light box to give myself a healthy dose of good, ol'fashioned artificial light in the morning to get me started.
He explained that light therapy might help me stick to a fixed rise time which would stabilize my biological clock. This in turn would not only give me more energy in the morning but keep going throughout the day.
It sounded almost too simple (and too good to be true), but at heart, I'm a follower of Ockham's Razor, which says:
It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.
With a nudge from Ben@Zeo (our self-experimenter par excellence), I gave the light box a try this past November and I haven't seen the wrong side of the bed since. If you see me around, please forgive my unbridled evangelism for this little blue light - it's been a big game-changer for me.
Given my night and day experience with this, one question that I have is this: Could teenagers or college athletes (like my former self) win big with morning light therapy?
If you're an athlete or a teenager (even better: a teen athlete) have you used light therapy to help you out?
If you're not a teen or an athlete but have tried light therapy, how did you like it? Tell us below!