Archive for the ‘Light and productivity’ Category
In the January 2012 issue of PARENTS magazine, an article by Betsy Stephens outlines the significant impacts that sleep disturbances have on children – much more serious ones than most parents probably appreciate. For example, according to a recent study from University of Virginia, children who lack adequate sleep consistently suffer a drop in IQ points that is equivalent to the effect of lead poisoning. According to Dr. Judith Owens, M.D. at Children’s National Medical Center, tired brains cause neurons to lose their ability to work- to form the connections needed to learn. Furthermore, there can be long-term cardiovascular and obesity effects from consistent lack of sleep in children.
A rare occurrence? Hardly – the number of young children considered at risk for these sleep problems is estimated to be more than 20-30%. There are now more than 40 accredited pediatric sleep centers nationally, but many parents do not seek medical help, because they think their child’s sleep issues are as much their problem as the child’s.
Pediatricians suggest a number of strategies for addressing your child’s sleep disturbance. One of the easiest first steps is to use a bedroom light that has a gradually fading light, which is nature’s way of engaging the body’s circadian rhythms to respond with sleep.
In a January 2013 article written for the Office of Health Safety Canada, author Ann Ruperstein outlines and illustrates the extraordinary safety problem that fatigue and sleep disorders have become, especially as a result of the increase in use of flexible shift workers. She also identifies the research and increasing corporate interest in measures to respond to the problem.
According to Dr. Adam Moscovitch of University of Calgary, over the last 100 years the average amount of sleep diminished from 9 hours to six, and at least 10% of the population is affected by chronic sleep deprivation. Moreover, in this 24/7 world, many see sleeping as an unproductive “a waste of time”, and attempt to accomplish more and more during each day.
Does it matter? In a recent Australian study, researchers compared the cognitive functioning due to sleepiness with that due to alcohol consumption. They match; a professional working with 17 hours of wakefulness will have the same decision-making and reflex capability as someone who is legally impaired with alcohol. According to statistics from the National Sleep Foundation in Virginia, over 200,000 car accidents a year are related to sleepiness and fatigue. The Exxon Valdez oil spill, Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and multiple airplane crashes all cite fatigue as a significant factor in the catastrophes. Managing fatigue among flexible schedule professionals is a national safety issue as much as a productivity and health issue.
Both the Canadian and the U.S. occupational safety and health agencies have substantially increased their focus on the real consequences of sleep deprivation. The changing picture of the global workforce –a wider range of professions working more flexible hours than ever in history – compelled the OSHA agencies to expand their historical focus on factory and machine safety to include fatigue issues.
Working out in the morning is often the best way to get into a workout program and stick with it. But recent research under way at Appalachian State University suggests that there are other benefits to morning workouts, too.
Dr. Scott Collier’s research subjects exercised at 7am, 1pm, and 7pm, and then were monitored for sleep cycles and blood pressure. Subjects were between 40 and 60 and exercised moderately for 30 minutes. The study found a 10% decrease in blood pressure throughout the entire day and a 35% dip at night, as well as longer and more beneficial sleep cycles ONLY for the group exercising at 7am.
Lowering blood pressure is a proven strategy to avoid a heart attack. And who wouldn’t like to sleep better? Yet if you’re a night owl who has a hard time waking up in the morning, it may feel impossible to get up early for workouts. That’s where light assistance comes in. Exposure to light at 500-3,000 lux can reset your inner clock so that you almost feel like a morning person. Then you can gain the most from the morning exercise.
Here’s what we recommend for easier morning wake ups and exercise:
- Use the Biobrite Sunrise Clock to make it easier to wake up and feel alert.
- Use light therapy in the morning to re-train your inner clock so that you’re less of a night owl. *In fact, with a light visor, you can work out and receive light benefits at the same time, wearing it on a walk or a stationery bike.
By combining light therapy, and a morning exercise routine, you’ll reach your 2013 fitness and health goals in no time.
BioBrite’s SunRise Alarm Clocks are perfect for shift workers as the sunrise and sunset features allow the body to reprogram itself after a stressful day or recover those lost minutes from a restless night’s sleep. As remarked by several customers on online comment boards, the irritation of traditional alarm clocks has become a thing of the past.
Did you know about sleep debt? If you lose two hours of sleep a night, by the end of the week you owe yourself 12 hours of sleep! This sleep debt can feel even worse on top of stress or erratic sleeping patterns. Fortunately, there are ways to help ease the tension caused by sleep problems.
There are several classifications of sleep disorders. Light therapy is an effective treatment for a branch of disorders concerning circadian rhythm disruption. Disorders such as late night- (Delayed Circadian Rhythm Disorder) and early morning-insomnia (Advanced Circadian Rhythm Disorder) are especially aided by this type of therapy.
Using light therapy at strategic times can help you to reset your body’s internal clock and combat jet lag, fatigue, insomnia, and sleeping patterns due to shift work, because when you expose yourself to light at certain times, your body gets used to the new biological cues.
For those with a milder sleep debt, dawn simulation can be a soothing aid. Dawn simulation is not akin to light therapy, but both can work together to help shift circadian rhythms that are out of sync. Dawn simulation helps the user wake during hours before the first crack of sunlight. With a BioBrite SunRise Alarm Clock, a warm, glowing light gradually increases before reaching full brightness; mimicking the natural dawn, coaxing the user out of sleep efficiently and restfully. It can be very soothing to rise in this manner instead of jolting awake to an annoying traditional alarm in a dark room!
With light therapy, a patient sits at a prescribed distance from a light box for a certain length of time. That length is usually prescribed by a doctor, depending on the patient’s needs. The standard lux requirement is 10,000 lux at between 18 and 20 inches and the treatment should be every morning, from 20 minutes to an hour. The light box is great for those who have more sedentary schedules in the mornings. If they desire mobility, the patient may prefer to use a light visor, usually in the mornings after waking. By wearing a visor on your head, the light is positioned above the eyes more naturally than with a light box. And, because the light has further to travel to reach your eyes, the treatment time is usually cut in half. You should consult with your eye doctor before trying light therapy to see whether a box or a visor is best for you.
Note: With light therapy, your eyes must be open in order to receive treatment. Because with the dawn simulator your eyes are closed, dawn simulation is not a viable source of light therapy.
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