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Sleeping in completely dark room--helpful?

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

  1. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    I think there is more than melatonin to this. If not, everyone could just take a melatonin pill. The sleep wake cycle is more complicated than that.
     
    taniaaust1 likes this.
  2. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    I will also point out that taking the glasses off for even 1 to 3 seconds will suppress melatonin, and fuck up your circadian rhythm. Once you put them on, you cannot again expose your eyes to any ambient light during the prescribed period, unless that light is a candle, fireplace or a "low blue light". You can find cheap versions of those amber lights on Amazon too, (but I can't guarantee they are tested for the right wavelengths).

    Lowbluelights.com makes an awesome amber nightlight that is useful for the bathroom at night, so you don't have to fumble for the glasses.
     
  3. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    Well.. you have to read the Hansler book (only .99¢ on Kindle). He cites a lot of studies to explain how the glasses work.

    http://amzn.com/B0099360XA

    A melatonin pill doesn't really work to promote a circadian rhythm unless you get into a very specific "rhythm" of taking it to mimic a circadian rhythm.

    One of the things you understand from the book is that you need to create a rhythm so that your body can predict when its melatonin is supposed to kick in.

    There have been a number of studies where subjects melatonin kicked in like clockwork every day until their body clock was disrupted by artificial light exposure at the wrong times. The body can ignore the disruptions for a day or two (sort of like how the light from the "full moon" and "partial full moon" is only about 3 days or so). But, after that, the body forgets its rhythm and melatonin production goes down as the pineal gland gets confused.

    If you think about it, up until 100 years ago, the sunrise and sunset never deviated more than 5 minutes from the previous day. And the moon was rarely "full" more than three or so days and only when it was up/visible (the moon rises and sets). Plus, a full moon is never brighter than 1.0 Lux. There was a natural rhythm of light exposure and color temperature.

    These days, unless people are popping a pill almost exactly at the same each day, the body won't get into a rhythm of producing its own melatonin.

    Plus, there is the problem of providing a hormone in a pill that the body should be producing on its own. If the body sees enough melatonin, it can lower its own output of the hormone it should be generating.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
  4. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    And finally, the glasses are useful for circadian rhythm maintenance... Here's how a healthy person would wear them for circadian rhythm maintenance.

    The goal for circadian rhythm "maintenance" is to keep your eyes shielded from ambient blue light for 9 hours per day, on a regular and predictable schedule. So, if you typically get up at 7am, you count back 9 hours and that's when you should either be sleeping, reading by candlelight (or low-blue light), or have the amber glasses on — every night the same schedule.

    And then you make sure you have black out shades or a sleep mask because our eyelids are very thin and are purposely engineered to let light through while we are sleeping (so we don't miss the sun's wakeup call in the morning).

    If you need to wake up early, or get up in the middle of the night, you make sure to avoid all ambient blue light. Again, not even exposing your eyes to blue light for a second or melatonin production will be suppressed and cortisol will be triggered.

    So, that's how a healthy person would maintain their circadian rhythm in the modern world. Up until 100 years ago, this was pretty easy because it was virtually impossible to create ambient blue light.

    Keep in mind that even the once-a-month full moon is only a maximum of 1.0 Lux. Compare that to indoor lighting of a typical family room, which is 50 lux. So, circadian rhythms have been totally out of whack since the tungsten filament was invented. People actually used to sleep in bi-phasic sleep each night before artificial light. They always had two sleeps in the same night (first sleep and second sleep)!
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
  5. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    Well, we are talking about "temporary blindness" and if you follow the protocol loosely described above, you should be eased out of it nicely.

    Also, there are some benefits to temporary blindness (hat tip to @Gemma for this):

    http://io9.com/temporary-blindness-may-give-you-superhuman-hearing-1517103188
     
  6. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    You it helps to read Hansler's .99¢ book to fully understand it, but basically we have photoreceptors in our eyes called "Melanopsin" that suppress meltonin when they are triggered, and they respond to "blue" wavelengths that are above 2000ºK — which is the cut off point between the color temperature of fire and sunrise. In other words, fire or candle light does not suppress melatonin, but sunrise quickly suppressed melatonin.

    So, basically you wear special "blu-blocker" amber glasses that mimic firelight and as long as you aren't running around outside, your body should be producing melatonin.

    Interestingly, even a blind person will get into a circadian rhythm just by their body figuring out when they are up and going and when they are resting/sleeping. So, that proves that it's not just light that determines the rhythm. But, light is a major factor. Blind people produce a lot more melatonin than we do — particularly during the evenings when most people are exposing themselves to artificial light. And their circadian rhythms are more entrenched, since they can't easily disrupt them with artificial light.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
  7. Ninan

    Ninan Senior Member

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    No, I mean sensory overload. I'm already extremely sensitive when it comes to light (noise, touch) and I wonder if this would make it better or worse.
     
    WillowJ likes this.
  8. Ninan

    Ninan Senior Member

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    Ok, I guess we have different perspectives on this. I need darkness to calm my brain and prevent sensory overload. But thanks for info!
     
  9. Misfit Toy

    Misfit Toy Senior Member

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    The only answer I have to this is that I can't sleep unless it's pitch black. I can't have a clock with blinking numbers or a nightlight. It has to be black. I have a towel over one window with a curtain because sun comes in inspite of my black out shades and curtains. Even a small amount of light annoys me. I sleep much better in dark.

    A few years ago, I went to a cabin with huge skylights. I could not sleep the entire time and had the worst stay on vacation ever. Streaming light would come in at 5 am. It was awful.

    With sleep problems, they tell you to make your room pitch black.
     
  10. Gemma

    Gemma

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    A bit of honey before bed means certain amount of very complex polysaccharides for you body and your microbiome to feast on for several hours. So everybody is happy and CALM and not getting angry and waking you up or start eating you directly (your tissues) because of hunger.
    Let us say that even your microbiome follows certain circadian rhythms and it should be respected.
     
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  11. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    That's very interesting - I'll start doing that. Thanks!


    Also very interesting! It never occurred to me that bacteria etc. would have circadian rhythms.
     
  12. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    At what latitude?
     
  13. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    I find eating something before bed helps, too. Has to be the right kind of thing, as you say.
     
  14. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    The first time I stayed somewhere that it got completely dark during the night, I did feel better. But there were other factors, such as being near the sea (that always makes me feel better, too). The effect did not last.

    When I tried to make my room very dark at home, I found that eventually I lost my sense of what time it was, and of how much time is passing (being sick messes these things up, but they were entirely gone rather than being shaky: I felt disoriented and lost).

    So now I make my room somewhat dark, but make sure I can tell when it starts to get light.
     
  15. Ripley

    Ripley Senior Member

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    Well, it's related to darkness therapy. Encouraging melatonin production should help alleviate the symptoms you describe. Conversely suppressing melatonin will stimulate cortisol, which can exacerbate the symptoms you describe. One of the keys of darkness therapy is to get your natural melatonin flowing again on a consistent cycle.
     
  16. Ninan

    Ninan Senior Member

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    I take melatonin for sleep. Doesn't affect any of my symptoms though.
     
  17. Asklipia

    Asklipia Senior Member

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    We took melatonin for a while. Though it did help with sleep, it did nothing for our symptoms.
    But going to sleep every night at 9 pm, switching the computer screens to black and white, using flux etc had big impact. On sleep and on symptoms.
    So I suppose taking melatonin orally is not as effective as it should be.
    Or something other than melatonin is at play here.
    I suppose melatonin production is a result of synchronization with our circadian rhythm.
    There might be other results to that, quite important I would judge from what happened to us, that were missing.

    After one week stopping melatonin and doing this darkness thing we felt like if we had for years suffered a kind of colour poisoning. When shopping on the internet, if we had to put the colours back on the screen, they looked horrible and unbearable. Same with watching films. We went on a black and white cinema season, and when we watched a colour movie it was nearly unbearable.
    Just wondering how we could have poisoned ourselves for so many years, through colour.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  18. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    My GP put me on melatonin briefly and it helped me to sleep but it was always intended to be temporary because (I think) you adapt to it if you're on it for more than a few days.
     
  19. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    That doesn't really matter. You also adapt to endogenous melatonin.
     
  20. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    Yes, melatonin is not the whole story. For instance, adenosine is involved in sleep:

    The regulation of sleep is heavily involved with the immune system (what isn't?). As the immune system is turned up, it induces sleep. For example, in the above paper, prostaglandins increase adenosine release, inducing sleep.

    So I guess it is really not surprising that with a messed up immune system comes messed up sleep. It would be great if this could be corrected with light/dark therapy, but I am somewhat skeptical.

    Here is a nice article explaining the effects of the immune system on sleep, and how it changes during infections. It seems IL-1 and TNF are particularly involved in regulating sleep, most notably NREM is increased and REM suppressed:

    And:
    IL-1 also stimulates adenosine:
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
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