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Does Light Therapy Work for Insomnia?



Light therapy DOES work for insomnia.


Bright light therapy has been found to be an effective treatment in correcting several kinds of sleep disorders particularly circadian rhythm sleep disorders, early-morning awakening syndrome and sleep-maintenance insomnia as well as insomnia in organic dementia.

Depending on the type of insomnia that the patient is experiencing, bright light therapy is conducted on the patient either at night or early in the morning. The exposure of the body to light will adjust the circadian rhythm of the individual, and thereby correct the insomnia.

Early-Morning Awakening Syndrome

One out of four adults suffer from Early-Morning Awakening Insomnia or Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome. These terms refer to a condition wherein an individual wakes up too early and is unable to go back to sleep, which is commonly seen in the elderly.

Evening bright light therapy has been found to be effective in treating patients afflicted with early-morning awakening insomnia. This treatment has been particularly effective when used between the times of eight and eleven in the evening.

One study shows that bright light therapy can increase total sleep time by an average of forty-five minutes. Another study shows that patients who underwent bright light therapy were able to wake up later and thus had an increase in their total sleep time.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

On the other hand, the Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, afflicts younger individuals, such as teenagers and those in their early adulthood. This type of insomnia occurs when the individual has a slow circadian rhythm, making him sleepy later in the evening.

In order to correct this condition, light therapy is also used. This time, instead of doing it at night, it will be done early in the morning in order to adjust the circadian rhythm to an earlier time. By exposing the body to bright light early in the morning, the release of melatonin will be much earlier and therefore will cause the individual to feel sleepy at an earlier time.




Cheuk, D. K., and W. F. Yeung. “Acupuncture for Insomnia.”Cochrane Database System Review 18.3 (2007). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.

“Acupressure Found Effective for Addressing Insomnia.” Massage Magazine Exploring Today’s Touch Therapies. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.

Cerrone, R., L. Giani, and G. Messina. “Efficacy of HT 7 Point Acupressure Stimulation in the Treatment of Insomnia in Cancer Patients and in Patients Suffering From Disorders Other Than Cancer.” Minerva Medicine 99.6 (2008): 535-37. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.

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