The 23rd Congress of the European Sleep Research Society (ESRS) was recently held in Bologna. ESRS is Europe’s largest event dedicated to sleep medicine and research, and it was attended by close to 2,000 researchers, physicians and industry professionals.

These are the top questions and answers from the event.

Q. Why does Re-Timer use green light?
A. The peak wavelength is 500nm which is cyan in colour. The light contains both green and blue wavelengths. Our research has shown this colour to be just as effective at achieving a circadian phase shift as shorter (blue) wavelengths.  This colour was also chosen to balance safety concerns and public perceptions of blue light, with the efficacy of the shorter blue and green wavelengths. We have completed extensive product testing on both optical safety and efficacy.*

Q. What is the evidence base?
A. Since 1987, we have been researching the ability of light to re-time the circadian rhythm. There are 4 peer-reviewed research papers using Re-Timer prototypes and 2 peer-reviewed research papers published using the current model of the Re-Timer device. If you would like copies of the full journal articles please contact us and we will email these to you.

Q. How does it compare to a light box and what is the lux?
A. Re-Timer is a portable and convenient solution which increases user compliance to treatment. Re-Timer emits 506 Lux lm/m² and 230 µW/cm² measured at the corneal surface. A standard light box emitting 10,000 lux may only produce 98 lux, Anderson et al. (2009) to 398 lux, Glickman et al. (2009), at the corneal surface.

Q. Why is the light source below the eye?
A. The angle of light has been chosen to ensure the maximum amount of light enters the eyes. Light mounted from above is often obliterated by dropping eye fixation below the horizon (i.e. to read, guiding walking, and many other practical situations). The evidence about retinal distribution of the ipRGCells is that they are widely distributed into upper and lower hemi-retinas.

Q. When do you wear Re-Timer for and for how long?
A. Re-Timer is worn for 30 minutes per day. The time of day depends on what you would like to change. We have jet lag and sleep and jet lag calculators on our website which provide customized schedules. If someone has delayed sleep, they would benefit wearing Re-Timer in the morning when they wake up (and then earlier each day) for at least 3 days.

Q. How is it charged and how long will it last once charged?
A. Re-Timer is charged using a USB cable and will remain charged for 4 hours (8 days of use per charge).

Q. Is Re-Timer a medical device?
A. Yes, Re-Timer is classified as a Class 2a medical device in Europe. 

Q. What support do you provide patients?
A. We provide support via phone, email and our LiveChat service on our website. We also a free eBook available on our website for anyone to download. Called ‘How to Sleep Better‘ the book is written by sleep psychologists Prof Leon Lack and Dr Helen Wright and contains a lots of great information regarding sleep. I highly recommend it.

If your question is not here or you would like further information please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The next congress will be held in Basel, Switzerland in 2018. We hope to see you there!

 

* Re-Timer meets international ultraviolet and blue light hazard safety standards (standard ICNIRP 7/99 and CIE S009/E: 2002, also known as international standard IEC 62471/Ed. 1 published in 2006), and is safe (no UV light, no power in wavelengths <400nm).

1: Go to sleep and wake up using your internal alarm clock.

Easier said than done, right? The most problematic thing about this statement is what if you don’t know when your natural sleep-wake pattern is timed?

Most people try and regulate a sleep-wake pattern when they want to be asleep or awake, regardless of when their bodies are telling them they should be asleep or awake.  The trick here is to correlate the “want” and the “should”.

First step: Work out your body clock’s natural timing.

Your “biological clock” is a 24 hour cycle that regulates more than just sleep and wakefulness. It controls body temperature, balances hormones, fluids, when you are hungry and other body functions. Spend a few days understanding when your body wakes you up naturally (without an alarm), when you feel hungry, thirsty and when your body naturally wants to fall asleep. Go with the flow.

Then once you have an understanding of these times if it doesn’t match your desired lifestyle, shift it, so you can perform at your best. Research has shown that with the use of light therapy you are able to shift your body clock forwards and backwards.

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Image source: Re-Timer “How to sleep better” eBook

2: Get the perfect power nap.

We have all heard that one person say, “But I have been told!.. You cannot nap in the afternoon!” This is true, if your nanna nap turns into a hibernating sleep for the winter. Sleeping too long in the afternoon mostly likely will have a negative effect on your sleep in the evening. However if you are feeling overwhelmingly tired, the best thing for you to do is have a nap and recharge, make sure it isn’t for too long though. 10 minutes has been found to be the optimal length to nap, it’s not too short, and it’s not too long, it’s just right! New devices like Thim, can be used to achieve the perfect 10-minute power nap.

3: Avoid using electronics before bed.

This is a tough one when we are now living in the day and age of everything electronic. It’s not the electronic device that is going to interfere with your sleep it’s the bright blue screen lights that are glaring us in the eyes. The blue-green wavelength of light is the type of light our body clock uses to regulate itself. Shine too much of it in your eyes before bed and your body will think it’s the morning and the sun just woke up. So don’t completely restrict yourself, be smart about it. Use apps or filters to help block out the blue light, lower the brightness on your screen and TV, sit further back, wear yellow (blue blocker) glasses and perhaps even have a dimmed yellow light glow in the room. Install dimmer lights with a yellow/warm hue, so you are not blinding yourself with bright light when you turn the light switch on in the bathroom or hall way.

image source: www.piedmont.org (healthcare)
Image source: www.piedmont.org (healthcare)

4: Sticking to your bedtime routine.

We understand life can get in the way and occasionally you will have to stay up later one night here or there, or wake up earlier to catch that flight. That is okay, as long as it doesn’t become a habit (unless you want it to then you might want to consider shifting your body clock to match like I mentioned in point 1). Your sleep-wake routine should roughly be the same for weekdays and weekends. If every weekend you are completely changing your sleep-wake times it is going to be harder to maintain your natural body clock. If you feel like your body clock is slipping the use of light therapy within the first half hour of waking up can help you to wake up earlier and maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle.

5: Exercise will help you sleep better.

Yes it can, but most definitely don’t go pumping weights or running cross country at the gym 1 hour before bed then come home expecting to fall asleep. Your body clock regulates the time of day you feel the most energetic, this is when you should be doing those types of aerobic exercises. Consequentially providing you with better health benefits and even promote better sleep quality and even deeper sleep, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation. If you do feel like exercising before bed, try relaxing style exercises such as yoga or stretching.

Image Source: expandedconsciousness.com
Image Source: expandedconsciousness.com

Do you have any questions about the above sleeping tips? send us an email here.

A new report has assessed the financial impact poor sleep has in the United States at $411 billion per year. This is more than 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

“Our study shows that the effects from a lack of sleep are massive. Sleep deprivation not only influences an individual’s health and well-being but has a significant impact on a nation’s economy, with lower productivity levels and a higher mortality risk among workers,” report lead author Marco Hafner said in a news release.

“Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy,” he added.

Companies whom develop sleep assistive products (such as Re-Timer) notice a spike in demand during the cooler months of the year. “Many people notice their sleep and mood deteriorates during the winter months because the days are shorter, and people are not getting enough light to maintain a sound sleep cycle” said Ben Olsen, Director of Re-Timer.

People whom want to know more about improving their sleep can download a free book at the following link: Free eBook Download

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Insomnia is a common sleep problem. More than 1 in 10 people suffer from insomnia and every year, many of these people discuss their poor sleep with their family doctor. Often, these people are given a prescription for insomnia medication and sent on their way.

In fact, a recent survey of family physicians has shown that pharmacotherapy is by far the most common treatment of insomnia. Sleep medications are prescribed in about 90% of insomnia cases, typically benzodiazepines like Temazepam or ‘z-drugs’ like Zolpidem.

But, insomnia medications are not the best treatment for insomnia. The side effects of these medications can be very serious. Benzodiazepines are associated with excessive drowsiness during the day, headaches, dizziness, depressive mood and impaired coordination. People on z-drugs can perform complex behaviours in their sleep, such as sleep-driving, sleep-eating or even sleep-emailing. While it is recommended that these medications are only used in the short-term, people can rely on them for long-term relief which often leads to addiction.

Insomnia medications may provide short-term relief, but they don’t treat the underlying causes of the insomnia. Using prescription medications for insomnia is like taking pain killers for a broken arm: the drugs alleviate the symptoms, but they don’t fix the break. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend cognitive behaviour therapies (CBT) as the first-line treatment for insomnia because they actually treat the causes of the condition, not just the symptoms.

This all begs the question: why are sleep medications prescribed so often for insomnia? Undoubtedly one of the biggest factors is a lack of resources. Family doctors attempt to treat their patients’ sleep problems in just a 10-15 minute consultation, which is not enough time to convey even the most important aspects of CBT. Our public health system also does not have the resources to provide CBT for everyone with insomnia, as is evident in the ever-growing waitlists for sleep psychologists.

People may also be attracted to prescription medication because they provide immediate relief and are the ‘quick-fix solution’. This may be true for those who are struggling to sleep only in the short-term, but for those with persistent insomnia, are the serious consequences of long-term insomnia medication use really worth it?

This is why home behavioural treatment options like THIM’s Intensive Sleep Retraining are sorely needed. Using evidence-based behaviour therapy to rapidly treat poor sleep will hopefully become common practice and bring people the relief that they desperately seek.

By Hannah Scott

Hannah is a PhD (Research) Candidate from Flinders University

There is a growing number of devices available that claim to accurately track your sleep. But how do they work? And just how accurate are they? It turns out that not all sleep trackers are created equal, and some may be very inaccurate.

There are two types of sleep trackers: the wearables and the nearables. Wearable devices are worn by the user and include everything from watch-like devices to t-shirts, even devices which are placed on your finger like THIM. The nearables include devices which measure sleep from a distance. They incorporate smartphone apps, bed sensors and gadgets which sit on your bedside table.

Many sleep trackers, particularly the wearable kind, measure body movement to track sleep. If the user is moving a lot, it’s assumed they are awake, and if they are not moving much/at all, they must be asleep. This is the most popular method of sleep tracking, particularly by wearable devices.

For an average sleeper, this method is fairly accurate and can paint a reasonable picture of the user’s sleep. However, these devices can be very inaccurate for some people. The most common problem is that the device says they are asleep when they are actually awake, which is typically found for those who spend a lot of time awake in bed whilst staying very still. If this sounds familiar to you, see our recent blog for tips on how to improve your sleep.

Some devices use other methods to track sleep, including snore recognition, temperature, body position, heart rate and light. Some of these methods have little research to support the accuracy, others have none. This means that we have very little evidence, if any, to suggest that they are accurate at tracking sleep.

Generally, wearables are more accurate than nearables. But even wearable devices which use well-researched methods of tracking sleep like measuring body movement may still be very inaccurate. Why? The problem is that even though many sleep trackers use the same methods to track sleep, each and every sleep tracker has a different way of calculating sleep. Two wrist-worn devices which both measure movement can give very different data about a person’s sleep.

Many sleep trackers have absolutely no evidence available about their accuracy. This means that we don’t know whether they are accurate at tracking sleep. Under current laws, sleep trackers don’t require any evidence of their accuracy before being sold to consumers. These devices could be completely inaccurate and the consumer would be none the wiser.

In recent years, sleep researchers have been testing the accuracy of the most popular sleep trackers. Some are reasonably accurate, but many are sub-par. So if you are on the hunt for a sleep tracking device – do your research. Search the web for information about the accuracy of your desired sleep tracker before purchasing. Some companies have information available on their website about the accuracy of their devices. If no research studies have been conducted, think twice before purchasing. These devices may not be worth your money.

By Hannah Scott

Hannah is a PhD (Research) Candidate from Flinders University

 

If you’re like me, you hit the snooze alarm on your phone two, three, sometimes even four times before you finally find the energy and motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Panic then sets in when you realise that you don’t have enough time to get yourself ready for the day, and you will definitely be late for work. When you do arrive at work, you hear your colleague bragging about the morning jog that they went on before you even had your first cup of coffee. Sound familiar?

If you are a serial snoozer like me, your circadian rhythms may be to blame. Circadian rhythms are our internal clocks which tell our body when it is time for sleep and when we should be awake. For most people, their circadian propensity for alertness has already started to increase before their alarms sounds in the morning. But for those of us who struggle in the mornings, we may have delayed circadian rhythms meaning that our circadian propensity for alertness doesn’t rise, or is at least at a lower level than other people, at our desired wake up time. If you identify as a ‘night owl’, this may be you. Your boastful colleague is likely to have advanced circadian rhythms, meaning that they are ‘morning people’ and can generally find it much easier to wake up early in the morning.

So, is it bad to snooze your alarm in the morning? No, but it’s not good either. If you fall asleep in-between each snooze of your alarm, the sleep that you experience is likely to be light sleep. This stage of sleep is not particularly recuperative, meaning that we don’t actually get much benefit from this extra sleep. It might not be harmful, but it’s not helpful either. And we’re now late for work.

So if we shouldn’t snooze our alarms, what should we do instead? The answer sounds simple but is difficult for many: we should get up in the morning at the time of our first alarm. Over time, it will become easier to get up at this time because our circadian rhythms will shift so that we feel sleepier earlier in the evening and more alert in the morning. This is largely due to earlier exposure to bright light, which will help advance your circadian rhythms. Better yet, try using light therapy like the re-timer light therapy glasses in the morning to maximise light exposure and help shift those rhythms.

And if you’re still struggling in the morning, maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep at night. Try to go to bed earlier to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, and check out our handy tips on how the get a better night’s rest.

By Hannah Scott

Hannah is a PhD (Research) Candidate from Flinders University

It is that time of year in the northern hemisphere. Our days are shorter and skies are greyer. As the outside world becomes drearier, the temptation to lie in bed all day grows. We enter hibernation mode. But this time of year promotes the development of poor habits which can impact your sleep. Here is some advice to protect your sleep during winter.

As tempting as it is to remain in bed all day to keep warm during the winter months, try to avoid this becoming a habit. By spending more time in bed, our long sleep starts to break up into little naps. Over time, the bedroom environment becomes a place for wakefulness, not just the place to sleep. This means that it becomes increasingly difficult to sleep in bed when you actually want to, and remain asleep for as long as you want to. We then need to spend more time in bed to get the same amount of sleep that we used to, which can lead to serious sleep problems. Avoid this by only staying in bed when you are sleeping – have a hot shower or curl up on the couch to keep warm instead.

The limited amount of natural light during winter can also play havoc on our sleep. Exposure to light is very important for keeping our body’s internal clock, our circadian rhythms, in check. Circadian rhythms determine when we feel the need to sleep and when we feel awake. Many people have circadian rhythms that are slightly longer than the 24-hour day. Left to their own devices, people will gradually go to bed later and sleep in later over time.

Because natural light is a rare commodity in winter, our circadian rhythms are more likely to shift at their own whim. Bright light exposure in the morning helps to keep our circadian rhythms in check so that we can maintain our sleep schedule. Although we want to stay indoors protected from the cold, we actually need to be outside more in winter to expose our bodies to enough sunlight. If the bitter cold is too much of a deterrent for you, you may benefit from light therapy glasses in the morning to get additional light exposure and maintain your circadian rhythms.

Protect your sleep by getting enough exposure to light in the morning and avoid spending time awake in bed to ensure that you don’t catch more than a cold during the winter months. If you are ever concerned about your sleep, consult your healthcare professional.

By Hannah Scott

Hannah is a PhD (Research) Candidate from Flinders University

A poor night’s sleep can significantly impact your productivity at work the following day. You may feel extra sleepy and struggle to concentrate on important tasks. This is often the point at which many people reach for a cup of coffee to boost their alertness. While this may work in the short-term, consuming many cups of coffee each day can reduce the quality of your sleep the following night. This becomes a perpetual cycle where people rely on caffeine to perform during the day after a poor night’s sleep caused by consuming too much caffeine. To avoid this cycle, power naps can be a useful strategy to reduce sleepiness and get you through the day without impacting your sleep later that night.

 

What is a power nap?

Power naps are very brief sleep periods, typically of 10 minutes in duration. While these naps are brief, research has shown that they can improve your alertness, mood and cognitive functioning. Best of all, unlike longer naps which can leave you feeling groggy, the benefits of power naps are felt immediately after you wake up.

 

Waking from deep sleep is thought to be responsible for the grogginess typically felt after a longer nap. During brief nap periods, people typically do not enter deep stages of sleep. Also, longer naps reduce your sleep drive which can impair your ability to fall asleep later that night. This is why it is so important that a power nap is brief.

 

When should I take a power nap?

If you want a boost in alertness (two hours of benefits), then a power nap of 10 minutes is optimal. Research has also shown that a power nap taken during what is known as the ‘post-lunch dip’ in alertness (typically between 1-3pm), often leads to the greatest improvements. So, taking a quick nap during your lunch break may be all that you need to survive till the end of your work shift.

 

How can I power nap at home or work?

Getting precisely 10 minutes of sleep can be very difficult. People may try to wake spontaneously after 10 or so minutes of sleep, but even seasoned nappers may struggle to wake themselves up at the correct time. You could also try setting an alarm to wake you up after a brief period of time, but this relies on you being able to accurately estimate how long it will take you to fall asleep. Therefore, you may oversleep and feel groggy when you wake up, or barely sleep at all during your nap period.

Instead, you could try THIM: a wearable device which promises to precisely detect the point that you fall asleep to ensure you achieve the optimal power nap. So the next time that you feel sleepy during the day, take a power nap instead of a caffeine hit during your lunch break and feel the benefits.

 

By Hannah Scott

Hannah is a PhD (Research) Candidate from Flinders University

In a small pilot study, researchers have obtained encouraging results in using bright-light therapy to treat people with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In addition to trauma-related symptoms such as flashbacks, people with PTSD often report depressed mood and reduced quantity and quality of sleep. The partial overlap in symptoms with those of depression led Alyson K. Zalta, Ph.D., a 2016 BBRF Young Investigator now at the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues, to test whether bright-light exposure early in the day might help in PTSD, as it sometimes can in depression and seasonal mood disorder. Helen Burgess, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, co-led the study.

Past tests of bright-light therapy indicate that its effectiveness has much to do with the time of day in which it is delivered and the frequency and duration of treatments. There is evidence that people with the most intense PTSD symptoms have what scientists call “an evening chronotype.” This means the body’s natural 24-hour circadian rhythm is shifted later in the day, resulting in sleep disturbances.

Dr. Zalta and colleagues used a commercially available, wearable bright-light device to see whether one hour of bright-light exposure in the morning might shift patients’ circadian cycle back “toward morningness.”

The device used in the trial, called Re-timer, looks like a pair of oversized goggles with built-in LED lighting elements surrounding the eyes. The team also devised a “placebo” version of the same device. In a group of 15 volunteers who self-reported PTSD symptoms, nine received the “active” device and six the placebo version.

The results after 4 weeks of self-administered early-morning treatments led the team to conclude that bright-light treatment “was acceptable and feasible for patients,” and despite the small size of the study, appeared to help those in in the “active” group, with improvements over baseline symptoms.

Compliance wasn’t ideal. Participants initiated light therapy on 77% of treatment days, and averaged only 35 minutes per day on the device within the appointed time slot. Thus, many failed to receive what the researchers considered a minimally active daily course of treatment.

Those in the “active” group did, however, experience a circadian shift with the amount of light they received, as evidenced by earlier morning wake times. And “a higher proportion of those in the active group demonstrated a clinically meaningful improvement in PTSD symptoms,” the team reported April 17th in the journal Depression & Anxiety.

The team hopes to test the concept on a larger scale, and will explore ways of bringing patient compliance within the range they regard most likely to produce therapeutic results. The team also included 2003 BBRF Independent Investigator Mark Pollack, M.D.

Dr. Zalta commented: “If the method we tested here on a small scale proves to be effective, we are hopeful it can make a positive impact, since it is potentially much more accessible to patients than evidence-based psychotherapy and potentially more acceptable. It could present a new option for patients seeking care.”

Note: Content originally published as “Early-Morning Bright-Light Therapy Helped Patients with PTSD Symptoms”, by Alyson Kay Zalta, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, as published in Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, May 8, 2019.

https://www.bbrfoundation.org/content/early-morning-bright-light-therapy-helped-patients-ptsd-symptoms

Disclaimer: Re-Timer has not been approved to treat PTSD by any regulatory authority and we make no claims to the efficacy for this indication.
Feature photo courtesy of  Twitter Alyson Zalta (@alysonzalta) | Twitter

Central Gippsland Health to trial light therapy glasses for shift workers _ Gippsland Times

NURSES at Central Gippsland Health will trial state-of-the-art bright light therapy glasses designed to help combat the demands of working a busy night shift.

The trial is part of the Wellington Primary Care Partnership’s Working Well in Wellington project which aims to develop and trial a number of strategies to improve the mental wellbeing of shift workers.

Wellington Primary Care Partnership executive officer Angie Collins said the use of the Re-Timer glasses was part of an exciting new strategy that aimed to help nurses who undertook shift work to regulate their sleep patterns.

“Developed by Professor Leon Lack from his extensive research at Adelaide’s Flinders University, the glasses shine glowing green-blue wavelength light into the eye of the wearer to beneficially re-time the body’s circadian rhythm and melatonin production, as well as increase alertness in the critical early morning hours of the shift when cognitive ability tends to drop off the most,” Ms Collins said.

“We are hoping that the glasses will help to delay sleep time in preparation for night shift, help the nurses to improve their ability to cope with fatigue associated with working shift work, improve the quality of sleep during daylight hours and wake up earlier on days off.

“Research has indicated that good sleep is an important part of maintaining mental health and wellbeing.

“Professor Lack himself is interested in the trial and will be providing input to help us”.

Central Gippsland Health recently welcomed an expert panel to discuss mental wellbeing for shift workers. Pictured from left are Central Gippsland Health nurse unit manager Gary McMillan, psychologist Yasmin Schaefer, Monash Universitys Dr Jade Murray, Latrobe Community Health dietitian Anna Scobie and Wellington Primary Care project worker Linda Hunt.
Central Gippsland Health recently welcomed an expert panel to discuss mental wellbeing for shift workers. Pictured from left are Central Gippsland Health nurse unit manager Gary McMillan, psychologist Yasmin Schaefer, Monash Universitys Dr Jade Murray, Latrobe Community Health dietitian Anna Scobie and Wellington Primary Care project worker Linda Hunt.

The Re-Timer glasses were recently used by the Socceroos as part of their World Cup campaign.

Some players wore the glasses on long distance flights to help recover from jet lag and be in peak condition when arriving to games.

Older technologies required the person to sit in front of a light box for an extended period of time.

“This is not very practical for a busy nurse who needs to be able to continue with their personal and professional activities,” Ms Collins said.

“The glasses can be worn at any time, except when driving, and each nurse will be given a personalised timetable that matches their roster to give them optimum results.

“The glasses only need to be worn for a maximum of one hour per day.”

The Working Well in Wellington Project is supported by WorkSafe’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund.

Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy said the trial was a good example of the practical ways in which recipients of funding from Victoria’s WorkSafe WorkWell initiative were able to support workers whose jobs made them more susceptible to mental health challenges.

“We know that getting a good sleep can play a large role in maintaining mental health, but for shift workers this can be difficult,” she said.

Ms Hennessy said the government was looking forward to seeing the results of this trial and others to come.

Central Gippsland Health chief executive Frank Evans said CGH was also keen to see the results of the trial.

“We understand that shift work is both physically and mentally demanding,” Dr Evans said.

“We hope that the use of the glasses will enable our staff to be in the best possible mental and physical health.”

© Copyright 2020 Re-Time Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Re-Timer™ is a registered trademark of Re-Time Pty Ltd. The views and information expressed here should be considered as general only, and should not be used for medical purposes.