How to Reset the
Timing of Your Sleep Cycles

© www.PeterSmithUK.com March 2014 #1

With a few simple techniques 
you can move the timing of your sleep
to a time that suits you to:

  • Overcome jet lag.

  • Change from being a night owl to an early bird.

  • Regulate out of sync bipolar syndrome sleep cycles.

  • Overcome insomnia.

  • Sleep well after drug withdrawal.


We have a tiny little structure inside our brain -the biological lock- (called the suprachiasmatic nucleus) that sends out signals throughout the day that run our 24-hour cycles including the time when we fall asleep and wake up, our sleep wake cycle. 
 

Your Biological Clock Determines Whether You’re a Night Owl, or an Early Bird

Some people are naturally night owls and their biological clock tells them to go to sleep late and wake up late in the day, during our teens the effect of the hormonal changes in our body naturally makes us night owls. Other people are naturally early birds and their biological clock tells them to wake up very early in the morning and then fall asleep early in the evening. For most people the timing of their biological clock is fairly fixed and only disrupted when they travel to a new time zone and experience jetlag because they are waking, sleeping, eating and performing other biological functions at the incorrect times according to their biological clock; gradually over a few days the biological clock and reset itself and adjust to the new time zone. For people with bipolar syndrome however the timing of the biological clock can change unpredictably and contribute to the disruption that this condition causes to the person’s life. The reason I became an expert in how to control the timing of the biological clock was out of necessity because I myself have bipolar syndrome. 
 

Bright Blue Light Sets the Timing of Our Biological Clock

The timing of our biological clock is set by the time our eyes are first exposure to bright light in the morning. It was only discovered about ten years ago that there are specific cells in the eyes (called the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells ipRG cells) that inform the biological clock when it’s light and dark and these cells can only seem blue/cyan coloured light. With the new understanding the way the ipRG cells in our eyes work we can precisely set the time of our biological clock to run our 24-hour sleep wake cycle at the time that fits in with our work and life style. All we have to do is expose our eyes to one of the modern blue/cyan LED bright light therapy devices at the right time of day and our biological clock will adjust our sleep wake cycle accordingly. Not only does this enable us to adjust the timing of our biological clock to fit in with shift work or morning exams if you’re a teenage night owl for example but exposing our eyes to bright blue light in the morning (especially when coupled with a high dose of the right type of B12) boosts the speed and intensity of our melatonin production before bed and assist us to sleep better and overcome insomnia. 

Night owls want to bring the timing of the biological clock forward so they would use the bright light therapy device first thing in the morning or even earlier to progressively move their clock forward; early birds want to delay the timing of their sleep wake cycle so they use bright blue light late in the day. 
 

As Well As More Light We Also Need More Darkness

To make this bright light treatment truly effective however you not only want to expose your eyes to bright blue light at the appropriate time but you must also block blue light from entering your eyes for a few hours before you want to sleep.  There is a rapidly growing body of scientific research showing that the use of tablets, smart phones and high def monitors/TVs in the evening is exposing our eyes to levels of blue light that block and delay the production of melatonin and negatively affecting our sleep. Melatonin is a hormone produced by our pineal gland when light-specifically blue/cyan light-stops entering the eyes and stimulating the ipRG cells, it is often thought of as only a sleep hormone but actually melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and performs numerous important restorative functions throughout the body, in our brain, digestive system, cardiovascular system and bones it also helps us fighting cancer, heart disease, strokes and migraines. See http://www.the-sleep-solution.com/page20.html for more information.  You can buy melatonin as a supplement and certain conditions I recommend it however just like with vitamins and minerals there is no substitute for the real thing and eradicating blue light pollution for a few hours before we sleep and then sleeping in the totally dark bedroom maximises the natural production of melatonin from a pineal gland. 
 

Virtual Darkness:
How to Use an IPad but still Make Melatonin like you Lived in the Stone Age

Let me just reiterate the situation our pineal gland doesn’t start to produce melatonin until we stop
 
bombarding our eyes with blue light and for optimal health we should start to produce melatonin after the Sun goes down, not a few hours after we’ve already gone to bed. It has been shown that even a fairly brief exposure to blue light or bright white light by for example looking at an iPad, using a make-up mirror or brushing one’s teeth in a brightly lit bathroom will switch off melatonin production and it will not start up again in earnest for several hours. This not only delays and diminishes the quality of your sleep but can have serious consequences including the body’s ability to fight cancer; it is known that in totally blind people whose pineal gland does not register the
presence of external light and produce melatonin in a 12 hours on 12 hours off fashion have significantly less cancer than sighted people, for some types of cancer totally blind people have half the rate of sighted people [INSERT REFERENCE]. For more information on melatonin and cancer see Great Sleep! Reduce Cancer! By Hansler. 

By now you’re probably worrying that I’m going to suggest you have to give up all your electronics and go Palaeo-caveman in the evenings. Well the good news is you can carry on living in the 21st-century and restoring full natural melatonin production simply by wearing amber coloured glasses that block out blue light for several hours before sleeping.

In two interesting experiments demonstrated the effectiveness of wearing amber coloured glasses on the timing of sleep and melatonin production. In one field study teenagers themselves into what I call virtual darkness in the morning by wearing amber coloured blue light blocking glasses this is the opposite to what they should do. This regime progressively delayed the timing of their biological clock so that their night-time melatonin production occurred an average of six minutes later each day the teens blocked blue light entering their eyes in the morning; if continued this could potentially delay their sleep-wake cycle by 3 hours in a month. 

In another study (Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression) the effect of using self-illuminating tablet
 
devices, iPads etc. for two hours in the evening prior to going to bed. Some of the participants wore clear glasses, some wore blue coloured glasses and a third group wore amber coloured glasses; the amber coloured glasses prevented blue light from the tablet devices reaching the eyes whilst the clear and blue glasses allowed it to reach the eyes. The researchers observed the 22% reduction in overall melatonin production and as already mentioned melatonin has multiple health benefits so this significant reduction in its production could potentially have serious long-term health consequences including increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. 

Although we’ve had laptops for quite a few years, since the introduction of the iPad 1 in 2010 developed countries have become awash with brightly lit tablets and smartphones, the potential health consequences are enormous. I believe that will be hearing a lot more about this in the coming years; a simple solution could be to develop an app that uses the devices internal clock and adjusts the brightness level of the short wavelength blue light that the screen emits, intensifying it in the morning and diminishing it to a level that does not affect melatonin production (probably somewhere below 30 Lux) for a few hours before bedtime. If you develop such a app I’ll buy one and you can sell it from this website…
 

Supplements That Influence the Timing of Our Biological Clock and Sleep Cycles

Using bright blue light and virtual darkness techniques alone are enough to move the timing of the biological clock however there are a couple of supplements that noticeably add to the effects you obtain. 
 
Firstly by preloading these supplements into your system for a week or so you can move the timing of your clock very quickly even by many hours within a single day without experiencing any feelings of jet lag at all. Without the supplements suddenly moving the timing of your biological clock by many hours with bright light is possible but may cause symptoms of jet lag; with the supplements however I’ve moved my sleep wake cycle 9 hours in a single day without any jet lag adjustment.  Secondly the supplements seem to intensify the two sides of the sleep-wake cycle so that you wake up more quickly and efficiently in the morning and experience a more intense sleepy feeling before bed in the evening, effectively you feel more awake in the day and sleep better in the night.
 
The enzymes that run the mechanism inside our biological clock are dependent on the mineral lithium and ensuring adequate levels by preloading lithium supplements for one week before starting the bright light therapy enables the bright light therapy to quickly and efficiently reset the timing of the biological clock. You only need an infinitesimally small doses of lithium to improve the functioning of the biological clock, I typically recommend from 50 to 150 mcg of chelated lithium this is over 1000 times less than the close to toxic dosages of lithium used in psychiatric medicine to treat bipolar mania. There is actually some scientific evidence that at low doses lithium may slow down the ageing process, extend life and have positive effects on mental health.
 

B-12
 

Applications

Difficulty Sleeping
Bipolar Syndrome Sleep Disorders
Delayed or Advanced Sleep Cycles

 
my book.


Sleep Main Menu:-

Changing the Timing of Your Sleep-Wake Cycle 

Bipolar Sleep Problems

Overcomming Insomnia 

Sleep & Drug Withdrawal (Cannabis Heroin)

Sleeping Pills  

Sleep & Pain

 
© PeterSmithUK.com –Holistic Medicine Consultant-
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 © PeterSmithUK.com –Holistic Medicine Consultant-
 
For a more information on my practice and a list of conditions I treat click here About My Practice 
Over the years I’ve trained in Nutritional /naturopathic medicine, Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP, body-centred psychotherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Bicom resonance therapy, meditation and Kundalini yoga, in the past I specialised in digestive health problems including IBS, bloating, candida, parasites, constipation, Heavy metal detoxification and chronic fatigue syndrome including adrenal exhaustion. I practice at the Hale Clinic (central London) and via Skype as a holistic medical practitioner and have been in practice since 1988.
© Please feel free to download or print my work for personal use, I wrote it to help people. You can copy and distribute my work on your web pages and in literature but please give me credit for the fruits of my labour and don’t turn yourself into a plagiarist. When you copy my work please indicate where you got the information from (e.g. from or according to the website balancingbrainchemistry “…”) and include a reference/link to my name and the website or book you used. [#22]