Sunlight Is the Best Medicine

Justice Brandeis remarked, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” It also helps cure people, as first observed in tuberculosis patients. It targets depression, too.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Nap

Take control of your inner clock with a nap! Find out the best time for a nap, and how long it should be. Learn how naps affect your memory and your health.

A Howl from the Wolf of Winter Blues

A recent scholarly article asserts Seasonal Affective Disorder is a "folk theory." At first, this was a blow to my (rather large) ego, but then I decided it was good for business.

Sneaky SAD

I thought I was going to skip a year of SAD in November of 2015. I was feeling symptom-free! But I didn't count on a gradual onset, one stealthy symptom at a time.

Traveling Light

A clinical social worker with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) explains why she packed her light box to attend a weekend family event out of town.

Interminable Terminal Insomnia, Part II

How does a clinical social worker proficient in sleep hygiene cope with persistent terminal insomnia? Abigail concludes her exploration of treatment for her holdout symptom of SAD.

Interminable Terminal Insomnia

How does a clinical social worker proficient in sleep hygiene cope with persistent terminal insomnia? Abigail details her struggle with her least favorite symptom of SAD.

When Depression Ignores the Seasons, but Light Therapy Works

A hard-nosed clinical trial has introduced light therapy for non-seasonal depression as the new game in town. It worked better than an SSRI! What do you need to know to try it?

How Seasonal Affective Disorder Can Endanger Your Health

You may think of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as a mere nuisance, but sometimes it is much more...

Complicated Grief and the Inner Clock

For some bereaved individuals, grief turns from an emotion into an illness that can last months or years—and causes neurological changes that can be detected on an MRI. Find out more about complicated grief and the effects it can have on your sleep and circadian rhythms.

The Opposite of Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Deborah's Story

Spring has finally sprung, and now’s a great time to take stock of mistakes that produced the gloomy winter past. Psychologist Elizabeth Saenger tells the story of her co-worker’s descent from the Get-Up-and-Go Olympics to a turtle in molasses. And how she and you can turn this picture around.

Up and Away Part II: The Nitty Gritty of Jet Lag Management

Jet lag can ruin a vacation or business trip. Some travelers are more vulnerable than others. Major factors are east/west direction and number of time zones crossed. In Part I, Dr. Oren pointed to circadian rhythms disrupted by the sudden shift in the light-dark cycle. Here he points also to activity and rest patterns, and offers a program to minimize ill effects.

Up & Away: Jet Lag Upset, Ugh! Jet Lag Solution, Whew!

Flying away may be your fantasy: the excitement of a fresh environment, relief from stress, the escape from bad weather and the blues. Or you just have to travel for work, and would rather be home. The challenge either way is jet lag, with disrupted sleep and concentration, and physical distress. The brain's inner clock holds the explanation, and is key to the solution.

Advertising of Untested, Deficient Sleep Aids: Puhleeze!

If you’re revved in the evening and don't get enough sleep, you risk accomplishment, safety, and health. Companies with sleep products make their ads as enticing as they can. But when the claims are deceptive and their devices amount to placebos―or even get in the way of healthy sleep―we have to pound home the message that exploiting consumer expectations is inexcusable.

Escape the Burden of Switching to Daylight Saving Time!

Merely setting the clock an hour later—thereby forcing our daily routine an hour earlier—carries distinct risks of mood and physical disturbance that can last for weeks. We have a solution: gradually reset your inner clock an hour earlier over the week before the time change. And we have a daily Twitter program to coach you through it!

Brain Meets LEDs: Everything Old Is New Again

New lighting technology claims major breakthroughs in lamps designed to help get us to sleep, wake up, energize us, and combat depression. While we await proof of safety and effectiveness—even as marketing gets into in full swing—low-cost existing technology already nicely does the job.

How Is Your Sleep Health?

You’re not complaining, because you’re getting your zzz’s. You feel lucky compared with friends and family who suffer insomnia, apnea, restless legs, nightmares, sweats, morning fog, afternoon slumps… Yet the experts say still you may not be getting healthy sleep. See why, and what you can do to maximize sleep’s critical benefits.
Indiana: Where It’s Always Later Than You Think!

Indiana: Where It’s Always Later Than You Think!

Waking up into winter darkness is bad enough for mood, but Indiana poses its citizens double jeopardy—by manipulating clock time, forcing the sun to rise an hour later than it should, with dangerous results for students and commuters.

Plugging and Drugging (ADHD, That Is)

Powerful drugs for childhood ADHD have turned into a cash cow for Big Pharma. This has inspired an aggressive initiative to diagnose adults as well, many of whose “symptoms” are par for the course of everyday life. Targeting the major problem of delayed sleep phase insomnia in ADHD remains an important goal, but the medication route may well be the wrong solution.

More on the Chronotherapy / Cognitive Therapy Interface

Light therapy — a primary tool of chronotherapy — directly adjusts our body clock into sync with our sleep cycle, with an antidepressant effect that can reduce the reliance on drugs. The insomnia version of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I) guides patients toward a regular sleep schedule, with morning awakening into light. It, too, expedites the response to drugs

Depressed, Then Sleepless? Or Vice Versa?

New research addresses this classic chicken-and-egg problem by showing that direct attention to insomnia can speed up relief from depression.

Sunrise When You Need It

Michael Terman sits under a broad-field light diffuser. Placed over your bed, it delivers a therapeutic simulation of naturalistic dawn while you sleep.

Time Change Disruption—and Countermeasures

What time is it anyway? The clocks on the wall are being shifted back and forth, the sun is rising at a different hour, and our inner clock—our circadian rhythm—is struggling to keep up with all the external action. Cope? Or intervene?

Pregnant… And Depressed

With so many pregnant women faced with clinically severe depressions, we need to understand the causes and identify a non-drug treatment strategy—for the baby’s sake.

Mornings in High School—A Total Loss!

You’re bleary-eyed and dead to the world—so what’s the purpose? Is it your fault, or the system’s? You guessed it: it’s the System. Which must be tweaked a bit. Parents, teachers, and school boards: Take note!
Sleep and Memory As We Age: The Brain Puzzle

Sleep and Memory As We Age: The Brain Puzzle

Everyone thinks about the poor sleep and memory lapses common in old age, and our anxiety is magnified by the mystery of what’s going on. New data point to specific brain changes that are normal to old age. Might chronotherapy help?

Light Therapy, Antidepressant Meds—Either/Or? Both?

Light therapy can fight both seasonal and nonseasonal depression. Nonseasonal includes bipolar and major depressive disorders, and depression during pregnancy and old age. Then there is depression that worsens in winter but is not “on-and-off” like SAD. Where do drugs fit in?

Light Therapy on the Wild Side

In the quest for novelty and consumer interest, some companies have turned away from bright white light boxes (the clinically-tested standard). Ill-advised variations include miniaturization and head or eyeglass mounts. Green and blue have been substituted for white on the doubtful supposition that the antidepressant effect would be enhanced.
Leslie Lammie in the New York Times, 12-21-2006

Light Therapy Good, Bunkum Bad

It’s not just a matter of switching on bright lights. So many factors are at play. We rely on clinical trials to show what works and what doesn’t. Fortunately, we know a lot. Unfortunately, too many light therapy devices have not seen adequate testing.

From Winter Solstice to Winter Doldrums

The difficult season lags behind the changes in sunlight. Where you live — north-south, and east-west within your time zone — determines the chance you will suffer. But it is usually easy to transcend this burden of circumstances with a major tool of chronotherapy: bright light therapy.