How Light Therapy Helped Get My Sleep Back

I’ve been a night owl since I was young, with a normal sleep cycle from 3am-11am, but in the past couple of years that time frame has been getting pushed back. I started going to bed at 4am every night, then 5am, then 6am, and I was even beginning to push 7am. From sleeping so late I would wake up after 2pm and find it hard to get into a productive mood. Something had to be done.

The main problem I experienced is being completely awake at a time I wanted to go to sleep, even if I was tired earlier in the day. For example, if I were to get five hours of sleep tonight, I’d be tired all day tomorrow, but when time comes to sleep at a reasonable hour, I’d inexplicably not be tired. Forcing myself to sleep would only cause me to wake up a couple hours after that, feeling completely refreshed as if I took a long power nap. I’d have to read a book, go back to sleep, and still end up waking after 2pm. Any attempt I made to reset my clock failed to work for more than a week. The time I’d get naturally tired for sleep was being pushed into the early morning when the sun started to rise.

I did some research and stumbled on delayed sleep-phase disorder, where you have trouble sleeping at the same time every day because your body seems to think there are more than 24 hours in a day. I read that one way your body knows to reset its 24-hour sleep clock is for your retina to sense sunlight after waking. I suspected that that had to be it since I receive almost no sunshine for half the year while living in Europe. My body has no idea when the day starts and ends, so it settles on a day clock that is something like 24 hours and 5 minutes, a small perturbation that quickly adds up and explains why my sleep time keeps getting pushed back. One solution was light therapy, where you sit in front of a bright light.

Here is the light therapy lamp I bought:

light-box

After reading the manual it came with and some tips online, I developed a simple routine of sitting one foot away from the light for one hour soon after waking up by putting the box next to my laptop and letting it shine directly on my face as I work (the light lacks UV). Sometimes I look at it directly for a few seconds at a time. It’s important for the light to be as close to you as possible, since lighting power decreases exponentially with distance.

It took three days for me to notice a difference. Around 3am I’d start feeling tired whereas before I’d feel refreshed. Within a week, I was on a regular sleep schedule of 4am-12pm, which for my current lifestyle is near perfect (I may aim for 3am-11am in the future). My sleep was slightly improved and waking up was less difficult. My body was getting tricked that the light shining at it was sun, and so decided to be tired about 14 hours after being exposed to it. A negative consequence of this is that I’m more tired at night and less in the mood to party or stay out late. It seems that my sleep disorder enabled me to pursue night game for so many years.

The main idea from light therapy is that you need to blast your retina was real or fake sunlight soon after waking so that your body knows when to start the day. If you’re living in a dark environment or have a lifestyle where you don’t get strong sunshine, light therapy should help you with your sleep. While I would love to bathe myself in real sunlight after waking up, living in Eastern Europe prevents that for most of the year, and it’s no coincidence that my sleep has declined since moving here.

Some more sleep hygiene tips:

  • Don’t expose yourself to any bright light at night—it confuses your body
  • Download f.lux for your computer, which removes disruptive blue light from your computer screen at night
  • Sleep in complete darkness, but start to expose yourself to light 30 minutes before waking
  • Use a white noise generator to mask any loud noises coming from outside your bedroom so your sleep is not interrupted
  • If you must take a nap, keep it very short around 15 minutes to not push back your sleep time (I found that even 10 minute naps are quite helpful)

Recently I posted about vitamin D deficiency leading to all sorts of problems, and now with light therapy I can definitely see a link between lack of sun and poor health. It’s no surprise that people who work the graveyard shift are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. It’s from this lack of sun that I hypothesize people who live in places like Russia and Ukraine are so grumpy and depressed. If we showered these countries with vitamin D tablets and light boxes, the Russian soul may go from fatalistic to annoyingly cheery.

Your body is resistant to bad lifestyle habits when you’re younger, but will eventually lose its ability to fight whatever deficiency that persists. My main deficiency in life is sun, a free resource of which a serious lack has decreased my quality of life. While vitamin D and light therapy and mere substitutes for the sun, it’s better than nothing at all, and so when summer comes here in Europe you can find me outside worshiping the sun’s rays.

Don’t Miss: You Are Most Certainly Deficient In Vitamin D

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Jack
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You deal with this situation like you deal with jet lag. You wait up all day and don’t sleep until the hour you want to establish a sleep cycle and then pop a couple melatonin from the local pharmacy. When you wake up in the middle of the night, take another one. After a day or two, you’ll be back in the normal sleep cycle. The worst thing you can do is take a nap during the day.

Mike
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For some of us that only manages to move our sleeping schedule for a brief period before it starts quickly sliding into night owl mode again.

What Roosh describes is virtually identical to my sleep pattern. I used to sleep from around 4 am to 12 pm 10-15 years ago (after I started working for myself and most days wasn’t forced out of bed early in the morning), but now in my late 30s it’s usually around 6 am – regardless of the time of year – before I’m in bed (and then I sleep for 7-8 hours, 9 if I’m unusually tired).

Every so often I try a “reset” in the manner you suggest (haven’t tried the melatonin though), but that only manages to completely fuck up my sleep schedule for 2-3 days, sometimes – but not always – followed by succeeding in going to bed no later than 2 am. But at best that lasts around a week before I’m very quickly back to 4 and then 6 am.

Only times I successfully manage to go to bed early (like before midnight) and wake up early for any remotely extended period of time, is when I’m traveling. Getting pulled out of my daily routines in other areas too also changes my sleeping patterns (but usually also cause some nights with lousy sleep).

Malcolm Thomas
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I had a very similar experience when it came to getting some sleep. What I had to do was stop stressing over work and business. Great tips Roosh.

http://www.womenattracted.com

Randy Brongo
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Another great post Roosh. I’ve been reading you for a couple years and can’t believe how much of the same stuff I’ve had a problem with. Everything from body weight training to lack of sunlight you have managed to find a solution for. Thanks a million!

Cedric Roggins
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RV
You need to go to Colombia or do chicas not your bag?

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Leads
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Another thing is gym/running. Men have to sweat, regularly, and this has been proven. I’ve noticed boundless energy, consistent positive attitude, mental clarity and very potent/heavy sleep. Another thing to try is grounding. i know it sounds crazy, but you can actually plug into the ground of any wall outlet. This pack is $20 bucks and comes with everything you need as well as a outlet tester (it has to be properly grounded) http://www.earthing.com/product_p/pk.htm It comes with a book written by 2 Phd’s. It’s the real deal and I have personally healed a rusty old ‘achilles heel’ tear on my foot, while I sleep. It simply would not heal, even though i tried cryotherapy, etc. Also experienced heavier dreams. It’s worth a try, since you are completely unconscious while sleeping.

guy
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Grounding. Shit. You have got to be kidding me!!

OK well, I don’t care. I’ll try anything once. I have an open mind on these matters. But it’s still damn funny smile

Leads
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dude, I know…..but I shit you not! The worlds top athletic trainers have confirmed it, and hardcore athletes are using the grounding sleeping bag for max results. The patch kit though, it worth trying. i mean, you’re sleeping anyway. On a related note, I will add that Dragon Herbs sells cistanche tonic drops, an herb which Genghis Khan used. (He fathered the most children in recorded human history) Anyway, I believe the product is called ‘super yang jing” A few drops of the stuff certainly “awoke the willy

Zelcorpion
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Another great thing apart from vitamin D3 is MELATONIN. Recently I talked to a doctor who also had a local sleep clinic at his practice. He absolutely discourages anyone from using sleep meds. They work only short-term at best and have mile-long side-effects.
He only prescribes melatonin from ranges of 1,5 to 5-6 mg taken half an hour before sleep. Since they dissipate within 3-4 hours, it’s better to take a time-released version to get the full 6-8 hours sleep.
You can take melatonin for years, but of course it’s better to eliminate the reason for the sleep disturbance – diet, light cycle, lack of vitamins and minerals, toxins in environment, strong electromagnetic radiation (apartment right next to a cell phone tower) etc.

invisiblehand85
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A very interesting post

Nah Dude Fk That
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Please dont be a sponsored post

Andrea
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I love how you write with such conviction about a myriad of topics.

Old Guy says
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Also remember that nobody, not your family or your employer, will hesitate to try to destroy your sleep cycles.

I call it the “sleep vampires”. All the people in our society who want you to go without sleep. They want attention, more work, more of this, more of that. When you say “sorry I have to get some sleep” they mock and demean you.

When I hit about 50 years old I realized that this was turning into a serious health problem.

Now I have become utterly ruthless with these people. Trying to steal my sleep is now the moral equivalent of trying to steal my wallet on the street….i WILL attack the person trying to do it, with no mercy. My family has been taught this lesson many times over…try to mess with my sleep and you will be hit. Hard.

PrepZ
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Excellent points.

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TyKo Steamboat
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Amazing how I identify with you on categories such as 1.) women 2.) game 3.) lifestyle 4.) philosophy & also 5.) health & nutrition
I appreciate the diversity of this site (& ROK’s) writing.

I also am a night owl. Tired throughout the day & catching a “2nd wind” in the evening. I am happy staying up late after all daily business & chores are finished. I like the tips above. I have always had trouble sleeping without a fan running.

Sleep is paramount for body builders. The body actually builds muscle during sleep. My brain requires about 7 hours a night too for proper health. Weight lifting damages muscles through hypertrophy & requires adequate rest for proper development.

Scandibro
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Good stuff, I have had a similar sleep pattern as you, which haven’t really bothered me, as like you say, it enables staying out late. The problem is productivity of non creative tasks. I am vastly more, probably double, productive on these non-creative tasks in the morning and early afternoon.

Creative work I can do all day, but is actually better after dark. Working after midnight is great if you’re writing or need to come up with some good solution to a complex problem. For the mundane work that has to be done, I can’t do it well after 6pm, which is a problem if I only begin working seriously around 2pm.

The problem for me is that I simply am not an A type morning person. I can do it a couple of days in a row, getting up at 9 or so, but eventually my body craves to sleep late and stay up late. The solution for me has been to do a reset once my bedtime gets to around 4-5, then I’ll stay up and don’t go to sleep at all and then crash around 9pm next day, that leaves me waking up around 9am next day and I can keep that sleeping pattern for a week or two. Then days get longer and it repeats.

Will look into bright light therapy and Vitamin D.

Alana
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Surely that gets a bit tiring though, if u keep repeating that cycle? eek

Clark Kent
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I honestly think the climate has a significant effect on individuals and ultimately culture.

In Canada I can last from about November to December for winter, but once February rolls around I’m dying for the sunlight. At that point I choose to just hibernate and focus on work, but I’m sick of the cycle.

The Canadian winter is the apocalypse and it comes every year.

TyskKille
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How many hours of daylight do you get during the November-February period?

Clark Kent
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Mmmm…
It’s dark at 9am and it’s dark (coming to darkness at 5).
So if you are indoors during 9-5 indoors u get very limited light. And it’s mostly cloudy.
I started taking vitamin D years ago and it helps.

TyskKille
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That’s actually more than I expected. In my city in Sweden, it is only about 6 hours of daylight.

Clark Kent
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I can’t handle it anymore personally.
Everyone has a different tolerance/preference and my patience for winter has ended.

TyskKille
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I cannot take it anymore either. I am considering relocating to a sunnier area. Unfortunately, all Southern European countries are in permanent crisis, so I will have to look for another continent.

Any suggestions?

Dirk Diggler
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In North America? 30 degrees Latitude, according to the articles I’ve read. This means no farther north than Jacksonville, FL.

Dirk Diggler
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Mid western US, but same here. February is a evil month for me. My solution was a tanning bed for ten minutes per day, about 4-5 times a week. It changed my life.

TJ
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I have been taking 2000 IU of vitamin D a day after you posted about it previously. I notice a definite improvement in mood and energy. Thanks. Now that the weather is warmer I am cutting that in half and spending more time outside during the day.

just a human
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Roosh-be very carefull with digitally generated white noise!!!-it can damage your ears. Do a research on websites about sound engineering. It is not the same as natural rain noise coming thru CLOSED window (that works as high frequency filter). High frequency noise for long periods is very dangerous for hearing.

Brady M. Salli
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I used to do circadian rhythm research on arctic vertabrates. The idea behind using lights to mimic sunlight is sound, but the numbers they use to define indirect sunlight are kinda hokey and the products are garbage. If you hold a lux meter up to pretty much any of the lights advertised for mood or circadian rhythm adjustments, you’ll find that you would have to stare directly at the light source and be within about 2 inches of the bulb. For those of you in areas with minimal sunlight, you’re better off following a strict diet and exercise plan rather than using pills or light therapy. If you’re a night shift worker, switch to days.

Bumfluffery
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There are some more tips here http://humbledmba.com/become-a-morning-person-how-to-end-insomnia-f

I also use the blue blockers they sell here while I’m in bed https://www.lowbluelights.com/products.asp. It is like Flux for the whole world.

Finally, the power of the lamp goes down as the square of distance, not exponentially. That error completely discredits everything you’ve ever written.

TyskKille
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Overproportionally would have been the correct word.

A Man For All Seasons
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Actually, decreasing by the square of the distance is an exponential rate. The exponent is the power of 2. Your error discredits everything you’ve every written

Glengarry
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Glengarry
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Please stop.

Dirk Diggler
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Dirk Diggler
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No it doesn’t. No reason to be a Beta drama queen. It was a minor mistake based upon poor word choice.

Chad
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I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but you guys should seriously consider at least a vacation to Australia if not permanently residing here. As an American living in Australia for the last few years, I can say that it’s as close to a Roosh paradise for men as I’ve encountered and I’ve traveled 35 countries so far. If you’re under 30 you can get a 1 year working holiday visa and minimum wage is $15 an hour.

http://www.YankeeAussie.com

In my experience, as soon as you hear them say, “are you American?”, they have at least enough interest to be bangable.

It’s good for Canadians as well and there are way more Canadians than Americans here. You lucky guys can get 2 years working holiday visa.

Mark Zolo
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Pro Tip with Flux. Just started using it.

Anonymous
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Alana
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The sunshine may be nice and lifts the mood, but sunscreen is impt if u wanna age well. Among the pple I know, some of the pple doing night-shifts actually have the best skin and I suspect it’s because they get less sun exposure.

I think having an early-to-rise lifestyle is overall the best though, I get depressed easily if I don’t see enough sunlight.

BikE_CHA1N
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Facing the same problem now! Get busy and put some pressure on yourself to get things done! Go to bed earlier and force yourself to get out of bed when that alarm rings! Been doing it for a week and it seems to work!

Babaganush
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Surprised nobody’s mentioned intermittent fasting. It naturally resets your biological clock. Great for jet lag.

Also light energy disspiates quadratically not exponentially. Exponential functions in physics occur in things like battery charge curves and carbon decay.

Irish
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I suffer from a similar sleeping issues where I am knackered throughout the day unable to be productive or do anything then I’m wide awake at 3am when I want to get to sleep. Probably caused by party nights ending at 6-7am (or occasionally even carrying on straight through into the next day) twice a week for the past 5 years or so.

So thanks for this, stumbling across this article has come just at the right time. I am going to give this light therapy a go for sure. I also have a bad habit of reading articles whle in bed before I got to sleep either on my phone or on a tablet which must also be having a bad effect. So I will switch to reading a paperback instead.

Anonymous age 72
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In 1989 we bought the house in Mexico City, and I started taking the entire month of December as personal vacation after years of never being without the kids.

I noted that after I came back, I got really depressed. I loved Mexico so much I assumed it was simply missing the Mexican life.

Finally, two men at work told me they had watched me and listened to me, and suspected it was depression related to lack of sunlight. It made sense!