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Photo credit: photo by Ian MacKenzie via Flickr

If you’ve been finding that passing 60 is causing you sleeping problems, you’re not alone. At least 40% of men and women over 60 suffer from sleep disorders such as:

• drowsiness during the day; • waking up at night; • waking up early for the day; and • sleeping lightly. Research shows that even older people who don’t feel they have a sleep disorder spend less time in deep sleep than they did when they were younger; the problem isn’t you, it’s biological.

It may feel ridiculous to awaken at three or four in the morning when you once were able to stay up until that time—and happily slept until 11. While there may be nothing lonelier than being awakened by your sleep disorder when it seems like everyone else is sleeping, you’re actually in great company.

Yet you deserve better! 60 and over should be fun fun fun. You’ve earned it. And it can be, because even if your sleep disorder is normal, there’s still a natural remedy that really works: light therapy.

Light therapy is a natural sleep aid. Fifteen minutes of treatment with the BioBrite light box or visor should show results in no time by recalibrating your body clock. You’ll sleep more deeply and for a longer time—and feel better during the day.

As always, speak to your doctor. Some sleep disorders have serious health effects and should be treated with medication.

Photo by USAG-Humphreys via Flickr.

About 5.2 million adults in the United States have PTSD during a given year. When you have PTSD, a traumatic event such as abuse, assault, a serious accident, or combat exposure triggers serious symptoms and make it hard to function. These symptoms include flashbacks, numbness to feelings, a constant alert for dangers like those you previously experienced, and difficulty sleeping. Sleep problems affect 70-90% of people with PTSD.

According to the National Center for PTSD, which is a division of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD occurs in about 11-20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

It’s a tragedy that America’s men and women in uniform might suffer for months and years because of the experiences they’ve had serving our country. We all grieve for our soldiers and their families. Regardless of political differences, Americans stand united in our dedication to help.

At BioBrite we’re proud to know that we make a product, our light therapy visor, that can make a real difference for people who suffer from PTSD. Researchers from the University of South Carolina report significant effects from a study of 16 soldiers who received light therapy 30 minutes a day. Study coordinator Shannon Cornelius, Ph.D., commented, “Because bright light therapy is a relatively simple, self-administered, inexpensive treatment with few side effects, these results are an important step to further establish the efficacy of bright light therapy as an alternative or adjunct treatment for combat-related PTSD.”

The study found significant effects on sleep. And soldiers who slept better also had relief from depression and anxiety. As Dr. Cornelius commented, sleep and other symptoms of PTSD can interact in a “vicious cycle.” Common pharmaceutical treatments for depression can cause insomnia and have other side effects. Light therapy’s natural remedy is safe and effective, and people with PTSD deserve nothing less than to know its benefits.

Photo by Brisbane City Council via Flickr.

There’s an amazingly simple and effective way to improve your athletic performance—sleep at least ten hours a night. Cheri Mah at The Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory has been studying the effects of 10 hours of sleep for athletes in a variety of sports for years. In a typical study, she asks collegiate athletes to follow their usual sleep schedule for two to four weeks, and she studies their performance over that period. Most typical schedules are 6-9 hours a night. Then she studies their performance over the course of five or more weeks in which they sleep ten hours out of every 24 hour period. When schedules did not permit the athletes to get ten hours of sleep in a night, they compensated with daytime naps.

Here’s a taste of the results:

Swimmers: Athletes swam a 15-meter sprint 0.51 seconds faster, reacted 0.15 seconds quicker off the blocks, improved turn time by 0.10 seconds and increased kick strokes by 5.0 kicks.

Basketball Players: Players ran 282-foot sprints 0.7 seconds faster. Shooting accuracy during practice also improved: Free throw percentages increased by 9 percent and 3-point field goal percentage increased by 9.2 percent.

Tennis: Serve accuracy improved 23%.

A number of the athletes studied set personal records during the period for which they were sleeping ten hours a night. It’s enough to make anyone who takes sport seriously take notice, but how can you adjust your sleep schedule to accommodate ten hours of shut-eye?

We recommend the BioBrite SunRise Alarm Clock. The clock’s sundown routine lasts 30 minutes, and by the end of it you will be in deep slumber. It provides gradually fading light that convinces your body that it really is time to go to sleep. Set the sunrise routine to gently awaken you like a rising sun for ten hours later, and then get ready to train. The research shows that an ongoing period of ten hours of sleep a night makes a real difference. You might even surprise yourself. 

Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

If you have seasonal affective disorder, other forms of depression, or a sleep disorder, pharmaceutical companies have a host of offerings for you. You can try to alleviate depression with Prozac, or Lexapro. You can try Ambien or Lunesta to get a better night’s sleep.

But these drugs have side effects. Prozac and Lexapro, for example, can cause insomnia. Ambien and Lunesta can cause daytime drowsiness, which kind of defeats the point of getting a good night’s sleep. Most of these powerful drugs can cause stomach upset, which isn’t surprising, since when you take a powerful drug in a pill you’re putting a potent chemical into your stomach. Avoiding this is just one of the dramatic advantages of light therapy.

Light therapy’s efficacy for seasonal affective disorder was first studied in 1981 at the National Institute for Mental Health of the National Institute of Health. In the ensuing decades, light therapy has been established by study after study as an effective treatment for depression and sleep disorders. BioBrite has a distinguished board of scientific advisors who guide our own research activities.

Light therapy is hard to categorize as alternative medicine, because western medicine has so definitively supported it. But like many “alternative” or “holistic” remedies, it’s essentially free of side effects. The only kind of addiction light therapy can create is an addiction to feeling great.

An interesting study in 2006 compared light therapy to Prozac for depressed patients. Researchers at the Mood Disorders Centre in Vancouver, Canada, found that light therapy was just as effective as Prozac but that people felt the effects more quickly. If you’re depressed, of course you want to feel better quickly. And BioBrite’s light therapy products tend to be less expensive than anti-depressants in the long term, so they really are an obvious choice.

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.

Photo by Jhayne via Flickr

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.

Photo by lululemon athletic via Flickr

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.

Baby and sleep. Sometimes it seems like they’re like oil and water. Getting to sleep and staying asleep are the sometimes unobtainable ambitions of every parent.

Photo by Xlibber via Flickr.

Every parent struggles with a fussy child at bedtime, but it’s healthiest to encourage children to keep to a sleep routine. Enter the EZ Wake — a small, playful green unit with a rounded globe. Smaller in scale and more vertical in appearance, the EZ Wake features a set 30-minute sunrise cycle, back-up beeper, and simple, four-button display. The globe is made of unbreakable, polycarbonate plastic. It features the same warm wake-up glow as the larger clocks. Valerie in Philadelphia shared in a review what a lifesaver the BioBrite Sunrise clock has been. The clock ended bedtime struggles and 5 a.m. wakings for her daughter, starting from a very young age. Beginning the clock’s 30-minute fading sundown routine at bedtime, she would read a bedtime story.  At the end of the book, her daughter was ready to go into her crib. Using the clock’s 30-minute fade up sunrise routine successfully delayed wake up times that had been a punishing 5 a.m.

Valerie even found that she could use the clock to create a different sleep schedule on a given day. If she wanted her daughter to wake at a different time than usual, she could adjust the clock. Her daughter would wake earlier or later if the clock told her to.

Any parent who’s dealt with a chronically early waking child, or daily bedtime struggles, or the transition to daylight savings time, can envision the value of the BioBrite Sunrise Clock. It’s the key to changing the chemistry of baby and sleep so the two do mix. And the best part is it’s not chemical: the sunrise clock is a natural remedy, completely safe for your baby or young child.

There’s evidence that improving sleep patterns from an early age will pay off for years to come. Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio reported in the journal Pediatrics in 2012 that 21% of children with a sleep problem at six months of age continued to have issues later on, compared with only 6% of children without sleep problems at six months. If you fix it now, you’ll be glad later. And so will your child as she knows the benefits of a great night’s sleep throughout her life.

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.

Jet lag is more than fatigue—though the terrible fatigue you feel when you have it is certainly bad enough! When your body’s convinced that you woke up for the day at 3 a.m., or, depending on where you’ve been, stayed up until 3 a.m., it seems to beg you to quit.

photo credit: photo by eosdude via Flickr

Symptoms of jet lag can include insomnia and waking up early, and just not feeling well. It can even extend to digestive problems, muscle soreness, and menstrual problems in women.

There’s even evidence that chronic jet lag can negatively impact your brain. A study of flight attendants revealed a smaller temporal lobe in those who had insufficient time to recover between flights that cross time zones. Another study involving hamsters showed that the animals’ brains made fewer new neurons if they were subjected to the equivalent of a six-hour time zone shift.

Fortunately light therapy is a natural remedy for jet lag. For short trips within the continental United States and if you don’t travel a lot, you will probably find 15 minutes a day with our light box or light visor gets you back on track in no time. If you travel a lot, hopping continents as often as you visit the dry cleaner, you may benefit from the BioBrite Jet Lag Calculator, which will tell you how and when to use light therapy for a quick recovery. You can actually cut your recovery time in half this way.