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Sleeping in completely dark room--helpful?

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by Gemma, Jun 16, 2014.

  1. Gemma

    Gemma

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    May I ask a question here?

    Anybody experienced improvement in symptoms when sleeping in completely dark room?
    Or even any positive experience after a stay in a dark room?

    I am not recommending, I am asking a question only :)
     
  2. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    I use a black silk eye mask to protect my dry eyes from corneal erosion and have total blackout, but it makes no difference to my sleep.
     
  3. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    How does that protect your eyes, brenda? Just wondering because I have some corneal damage due to my dry eyes.
     
  4. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    It helps to keep the moisture in though l have to use oil in my eyes as well. Do you get erosions?
     
  5. Gemma

    Gemma

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    Clarifying the second question: I mean a therapeutic stay in a dark room for 1-2 weeks or so.
     
  6. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks! Hadn't heard of that trick. I put drops in my eyes just before I go to bed to try to stop them drying out but it's not very effective.

    Yes, I think they were called erosions. Only had one appt with the ophthamologist so far (another next week).

    I was diagnosed with a bacterial eye infection at my first appt and given abx. It helped a bit but didn't cure the problem. With all this microbiome stuff, I wonder what the issues might be around the eye microbiome (presumably it's got one).
     
    rosie26 and brenda like this.
  7. Gemma

    Gemma

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    Grr, clarifying even more: it is called dark therapy. But I really do mean a longer stay, counted in weeks, in total darkness.
     
  8. Asklipia

    Asklipia Senior Member

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    @Gemma about sleeping in total darkness
    Yes, my husband and I (which makes it a n=2) had very noticeable results by achieving total darkness in our bedroom.
    After about a week, general improvement was definite : better sleep at night and calm energy during the day, a complete stop to any night sweats, better mood, and a deep feeing what we were doing was very right. Eyes quite wet upon waking up.
    It is not very clear it was only due to this total darkness because at the same time we also decided to change all computer screens to black and white, and stopped using Ipads for reading, switching to e-paper display instead (black and white too). And stopped watching films in the evening. And we changed some of the lights in the house to make sure there was no unnecessary harsh lighting. After dark, we only read books.

    We were not really sick anymore, it was just an added bonus.

    A couple of months later we started watching films at night again and experienced very rapidly, after three days, a slight come-back of the old problems. So we stopped. It seems that once a week is OK, not inclined to try more at the moment. We don't want to mess up the results of our RS challenge.
    Good luck with whatever you are looking for!:)
     
    golden likes this.
  9. Gemma

    Gemma

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    Asklipia, thank you, your experience definitely makes sense to me!
     
  10. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    I use a sleep mask and find it helpful. I have read that even having light on you skin can disrupt sleep. That may be why I prefer to always have a light cover when I sleep.
     
  11. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi Gemma - not sure what you're counting as total darkness. My bedroom is certainly very dark - doesn't overlook streetlights and has solid shutters rather than curtains, and if I open my eyes in the night I can't see anything.

    However, I nevertheless have insomnia as part of my ME - I find it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep, despite taking pregabalin (lyrica) as a sleep med. I typically wake four or five times a night.
     
  12. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    I've stayed involuntarily in a darkened room for weeks at end during the most acute parts of my illness when light intolerance played a major part. Although I did recover enough to recover from these episodes staying in a darkened room for more than a few days now doesn't play a noticeable part in recovering from the day to day symptoms of ME.

    When I was first acutely ill with viral symptoms light intolerance was very severe and I was in and out of consciousness. This still occurs but in episodes now. I need time in a dark room then but only as long as the acute phase lasts. After that I feel trapped.

    I'm guessing what you are referring to is not getting a good nights sleep in a dark room but deliberately spending time in one for a week or more to see if ME Symptoms improve? Rather like a sensory deprivation.

    There was an interest in this area in the 80's and 90's. Particularly in the area of sleep therapy. There were doctors who advocated taking patients into a dark ward or room and then drugging them for a week or two. I met one of these doctors who did try and convince me to try it and afterwards I met some of his patients who had been through the treatment and physically / mentally scared by this. Some patients were not always drugged but admitted to a dark ward.

    There were deaths in both London and Australia from these sleep clinics but I don't know if any ME or CFS people died.

    This is a report of an extreme version of the sleep therapies.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/a...p-months-Londons-Royal-Waterloo-Hospital.html

    and one that was advocated for PWME by a NHS Cardiologist

    http://www.duncancampbell.org/content/preying-hope

    We still get the occasional poster to groups who advocate shutting away in a completely darkened space for a period of time as a treatment. That is, taking the CFS or ME patient into a state of having no light or other stimulus. It's not something that works for me other than in the short term and not as a long term solution.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
    taniaaust1 likes this.
  13. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    I definitely sleep much better in a totally dark room. I haven't tried dark therapy, though.
     
  14. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    This may help understand what dark therapy is:


    And, so, it's been hypothesized that dark therapy can be used for CFS.

    The cool thing is that you no longer need to lock yourself in a dark room. You can use special blu-blocker glasses now — provided you don't take them off, not even for a second, during the prescribed time period (unless you're actually in a completely dark room). The glasses from lowbluelights.com are expensive, but tested for the correct wavelengths, but there are cheaper versions for as low as $11 on Amazon that many people swear by.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014
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  15. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    Just ordered those $11 glasses. Why not give it a try? Thanks, @Ripley
     
  16. Gemma

    Gemma

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    Ok. Everybody listens to what Ripley says.

    -- it is important to live with natural circadian rhythms, get melatonin cycle right. It is good to sleep in darkness (yes covered, because even skin can feel the light) and get natural sunlight during the day.
    So: dark curtains in the bedroom and/or dark eye mask, getting to bed early (midnight is late). What about a teaspoon of natural honey before bed?
    Getting natural sunlight during the day: sun salutation yoga in the morning, no sunglasses if you do not really need to, blue-blocker glasses in the evening, installing f.lux on you computer, etc.

    -- dark room therapy (longer than 1 week) is crazy powerful even for healthy person. We should probably be very careful with that. It is not being drugged or so, or induced sleep. It is voluntarily living a normal life (inside a dark cabin or so) as a blind person.

    On magnesium: what beast is eating our magnesium?
     
  17. Ninan

    Ninan Senior Member

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    I've been thinking about this for some time. I also feel better with as little light as possible since I suffer from constant sensory overload. Darkness lets my brain rest and reload.

    But I wonder: Could dark therapy make you more sensitive to light afterwards? Or do you tolerate it more?

    I've even looked for black lenses. I don't really need to see much when I'm at home anyway.
     
  18. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi @Gemma - what's the logic of a tsp of honey before bed?

    I've seen a few people mention now that it's better to go to bed early because sleep is "worth more" before midnight but I haven't seen any references to evidence or rationale, even though I've asked for them. Is there some data on this?
     
  19. Ninan

    Ninan Senior Member

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    @Ripley About those glasses: I don't get it, do they block out all light? If they don't then how is it darkness therapy? :cool:
     
  20. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    Yes the skin can "feel" light when it makes Vitamin D for instance. However, it's never been proven that light hitting the skin suppresses melatonin.

    Only one single study (Campbell and Murphy) has ever claimed that they were able to suppress melatonin production with light shined on the skin. Supposedly they used a billi-blanket shining lights under subjects' kneecaps and claimed they were able to suppress melatonin production. It appears to have been a fluke. There have been many experiments and studies that have tried to reproduce that experiment and no one has ever succeeded. So, it is not generally accepted that shining light on the skin can suppress melatonin. There's just no good evidence to support that hypothesis and no one has well explained how it could even happen (photoreceptors to suppress melatonin, known as "Melanopsin" are only found in the eye).

    Plus, the glasses, and being blind, actually have the same effect of encouraging melatonin production. That's why blind people are thought to have less cancer (i.e. they have more melatonin production than the rest of us). It seems to have nothing to do with the skin.

    Still, melatonin production can be suppressed by other factors (noise, for instance, exercise, extreme brightness of any colored light, etc.). Light hitting the melanopsin receptors in the eyes just happens to be one of the biggest suppressors — and so you can see why the Campbell and Murphy experiment was likely flawed. So, when encouraging melatonin production, it does help to stay inside and in a relatively dark atmosphere. But, the glasses make it so that you can have a normal life while doing darkness therapy.

    The goal, when wearing glasses, when awake, is to reproduce what it's like to sit around a small campfire. Fire tends to give off a very warm color temperature (< 2000ºK) so a fire should not suppress melatonin at all. Nor would we expect it to, since our ancestors were using fire almost round the clock up until 100 years ago.

    Sunrise starts at 2000ºK and quickly rises in color temperature — thus becoming more "blue" as the sun rises. So, ~2000ºK is really the cutoff point of where the melanopsin receptors in our eyes became sensitive to suppressing melatonin. Almost all artificial light bulbs are

    A really bright bonfire and lots of bongo drums might suppress melatonin. :) You get the idea.
     
    Sasha likes this.

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