Lighten Up! as Therapy

Light signals the brain that daylight is approaching (even through closed eyelids) and the brain then sends a message to the thyroid gland to increase the metabolism of the rest of the body. This lets you get up in the morning feeling awake and ready to go! When the days get shorter, you have to wake up before the light gets to your eyes so your metabolism is still at the sleep level and waking up is hard and feels unnatural. Lighten Up! is intended to trick the brain into raising your metabolic rate by slowly lighting your room like a sunrise.

The principle is simple and so is the product. Other products available will dim and brighten lights at adjustable rates at any time but I thought the prices were too high for a product I wasn't sure would help my wife's depression. So I made a simple version for her use. It seemed to help and I decided to make these units available for others to experiment with. She has gotten to where she no longer dreads autumn and winter. Big change! Winter is still a slow time for her but she can get up in the morning instead of lying in bed for 2-3 hours. The model 205 was our first, very simple, product. Our new model 308 has more programming features. has a lamp similar to the one I personally use. It looks like this: These kinds of lamps usually cost less than $10. Target, Walmart, thrift shops, and internet retailers all have low priced lamps available. Just remember to keep it simple.

There are apps for phone and tablet available that do sunrise simulation. They are only about 15 watts brightness with current cell technology, but they might be worth a try.

Credit: I developed this device after I saw the research done by David Avery, MD at the Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA. I learned of this work from an article in SCIENCE NEWS , vol. 142, July 25, 1992. I then contacted The Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms and contacted some of their listed suppliers.