Spring Forward?

Those of us in the United States tried to remember what happens to the clock with daylight savings time using the phrase “spring forward and fall back.” In California daylight savings time has been accompanied by a week of the sunniest weather in a couple of months. For whatever reason, in our practice at Gateway Psychiatric there has been a sudden uptick …

Luminette Light Therapy Glasses

Weak circadian rhythms, seasonal mood symptoms, and disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue are common problems for people with depression and bipolar, the Luminette light therapy glasses may be a key part of a practical strategy to counteract these problems. Light therapy (very bright light, usually in the morning) has been shown to improve seasonal and non-seasonal depression in people with …

Circadian Rhythms and Food

Scientists are uncovering a fascinating relationship between circadian rhythms and food consumption. It looks as though when you eat can have a big impact on how your body metabolizes the food and on whether or not you gain weight. It has long been clear that light exposure plays an important role in setting a number of circadian rhythms in the …

Why Do I Have To Have a Regular Schedule?

“Why do I have to have a regular schedule” was the lurking question that hung over my conversation with Ann. She didn’t actually ask me that question but I could see that there was a rebellious child hiding in the corner of the room who was making the conversation we were having about getting regular sleep much less productive than …

Jet Lag Explained

What is “jet lag” and why do most people feel worse when they travel around the globe in one direction, rather than the other? An article in the journal Chaos, summarized in the New York Times, suggests an answer. And offers some hope that you can reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms. For people with mood disorders, this …

Getting Up Early

Getting up early is one of the best ways of counteracting depression. And having a strong circadian rhythm is especially important for people with bipolar depression because their internal “clock” may be less powerful. But it can be a challenge making a change in your sleep cycle, especially if you have always been a late riser. This article will talk about …

Chronotherapy for Depression

Chronotherapy for depression was recently shown to be effective in a fairly large and well designed study from New Zealand. What is chronotherapy? As discussed in the article, which appeared in Acta Scandanavica Psychiatrica, chronotherapy involves some combination of three separate sleep and wakefulness related interventions: Wake therapy. Wake therapy (previously known as “sleep deprivation” therapy, a harder sell to patients) …

Travel and Mood

Travel and mood are very much related. Often a trip is associated with a significant change in mood. This can be due to many factors. Getting out of a rut, experiencing new locations and meeting new people can bring you out of the depression. However there is also the possibility that travel may disrupt circadian rhythms in a way that leads …

Circadian Rhythm Self Assessment

I ran across a wonderful tool for circadian rhythm self assessment on the website of the Center for Environmental Therapeutics. The Center is devoted to providing the public and clinicians with high-quality information about natural interventions for people with stress, anxiety, and depression. I took the online test and it said I was definitely a morning person. Which is true now, …

Sleeping at the Right Time

Sleeping can become a major preoccupation at times of stress, or when one is depressed, or when the seasons change, as they are doing now. We tend to think about sleep as being something that is good for you. The more sleep and the better the quality of that sleep the better off you are. Elsewhere in this blog I’ve …

Sleep and the Lunar Cycle

One of our readers wondered if bipolar people are more sensitive to lunar cycles. I could not find any evidence for that, but I did run across a recent research report suggesting that everyone (bipolar or not) may have a sleep cycle that corresponds to the phase of the moon. Researchers at the University of Basel studied 33 people and …

How Light Affects the Brain

Two recent articles that I reviewed highlight the accumulating evidence that something as simple as sunlight has profound impacts on brain biology. When I suggest to people that they pay attention to daily light exposure and, particularly, to getting bright light for 45 minutes every morning, I am often looked at with skepticism. “Sure doc,” I hear the other person …

Sleep Therapy and Depression

What would you do if you could double the effectiveness of your antidepressants? Let’s say that this new treatment also had no known side effects, and was completely safe. That is what four studies have suggested could happen if people who were started on antidepressants received cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi). However, this treatment is not widely available. We …