The state in which our mind and body becomes inactive with our muscles becoming relaxed, our nervous system inactive and consciousness suspended is known as sleep.
Most of us sleep six to nine hours a night, during which we experience a number of sleep cycles, lasting between six to nine hours. Each cycle progresses through a series of sleep states. The non-rapid eye movement sleep stages (NREM) makes up seventy five to eighty percent of our total sleep, whereas rapid eye movement (REM) deeper state of sleep makes up just twenty to twenty five percent of our overall sleep.
The quality of our sleep is dependent upon the interaction between two biological systems in our brain. These are our body clock, which drives daily 24 hour rhythms and our sleeping and waking patterns and the ‘sleep monitor’ which essentially acts as an egg timer. The longer that we’re awake the greater the sleep pressure. When we fall asleep, the sleep pressure diminishes.
Sleeping disorders are common. They are caused by disruptions to either the body clock or the sleep monitor. Of the more well-known sleep disturbances having a body clock that’s not aligned with time due to jet lag, for example, is considered to be a principal cause of sleep disorders.
Your age may affect your sleeping pattern. Those in their teens tend to sleep later and find it difficult to rise in the morning. These delays in our bedtimes and wake times seem to be caused by biological changes in our body clock or sleep monitor.
How Light Therapy Can Help
Light is one of the principal ways you can synchronise your body clock to the time of day. The effects can be very beneficial to sleep patterns. This depends on the time of day that it’s administered. If you’re travelling through time zones, you’re able to calculate the most effective time of day to use your light box based on your sleep schedule. Light administered at them right intervals will hasten your body’s adaptation to local time. The use of a light box is considered good practice for allowing your body to adjust to light.
Studies have found that wake up light therapy (lights that shine increasingly brighter during the last thirty minutes of sleep) can actually reduce complaints of sleep inertia. Oversleeping in the morning could indicate that your body clock is set to a later time than desired. This will upset your body clock.
Light therapy can help you achieve a more consistent sleep pattern, one that will allow you to achieve the required amount of sleep every single night, and enjoy a better quality of life.