Need a good night's sleep? These glasses might help

Insomniacs needed for trial of hi-tech Re-timer glasses


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Patients will be asked to wear the Re-Timer glasses as part of the insomnia trial.

Patients will be asked to wear the Re-Timer glasses as part of the insomnia trial.

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Flinders University study is looking at whether Re-timer glasses can help insomniacs fall asleep more easily.

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ARE you one of thousands of people who toss and turn and have trouble getting to sleep?

A new study at Flinders University in South Australia is looking for volunteers for a study investigating whether Re-timer glasses can help insomniacs' body clock finally get a good night's sleep.

Insomnia is a very common disorder that affects the lives of about 2.5 million Australians.

The study is seeking to treat those whose main difficulty is getting to sleep initially but who sleep relatively soundly after finally getting to sleep.

Flinders University wants sleepless volunteers for new sleep study.

Flinders University wants sleepless volunteers for new sleep study.

The green-light glasses, developed by sleep and psychology experts at Flinders University, are used around the world by business and sporting people, students and shift workers for jetlag and assorted sleep disorders, often in tandem with other measures.

Exposure to specific kinds of blue-green (as opposed to white) light can be useful to reduce jetlag, treat insomnia, shift worker disorderly sleep, and a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder or as it stimulates the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls circadian rhythm.

"We want to see how long it takes the insomniac group to benefit from using the devices, in their home environment," says trial leader Dr Nicole Lovato, from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at Flinders University.

Previous Flinders University studies with normal sleepers showed the glasses can delay the body clock when used in the evening, or to shift the body clock earlier when the Re-timers are used in the morning.

"Our past research has shown that the insomnia problem to taking a long time to fall asleep, or sleep onset insomnia, is caused by a body clock that is delayed," says research supervisor Professor Leon Lack.

"Since we know the Re-timers correct the timing of the delayed body clock by shifting it earlier in time when used in the mornings, we are confident that they can also help those with sleep onset insomnia when used in the mornings."

Patients will be asked to wear the novel optical device, which looks like spectacles with small light emitting diodes attached to the lower frames, at home, in the morning after they wake up, for one week only.

"We have demonstrated this treatment is effective at retiming the body clock in those who have otherwise good sleep," Dr Lovato says.

"In this world-first study, we will examine the effectiveness of these light devices for improving sleep and the daytime feelings in those who suffer from insomnia."

Circadian rhythms determine the timing of sleep and wakefulness across the 24-hour day. An individual with a 'normally' timed circadian rhythm will typically fall asleep at approximately 11pm and wake around 7am. However chronic sleep difficulties can occur when the circadian rhythm is mis-timed, leading to a sleep-wake rhythm that does not coincide with an individual's preferred sleep-wake schedule.

A late timed circadian rhythm can lead to difficulty falling asleep. Sleep onset insomnia is associated with delays of the circadian rhythm in the order of 2-3 hours.

People who have difficulty falling asleep are invited to take part in the trial by emailing sleep@flinders.edu.au or phone (08) 7221 8307.

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