16 November 2009

No more counting sheep!

Did you know that the National Health Service spent more than £36 million on sleeping pills this year – and the cost is rising 20% each year?

There have been many remedies proposed to help beat insomnia, but according to the Daily Telegraph today a young inventor is now successfully marketing her "cure" through a major high street chemist. Kate Evans designed the LightSleeper to help tackle her sleepless nights whilst at Lancashire University.

Her invention is a small lamp which works by moving a soothing blue light across the ceiling in a darkened bedroom. The luminance of the light slowly rises and falls. As you watch the light your breathing will synchronise with the light as it becomes slower. The deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system and causes a relaxation response. Blue light also helps to re-calibrate the circadian rhythm, the body’s sensitivity to day and night through specific receptors in the eye that interpret blue light as day light. When the brain sees the blue light fading away, it interprets it as "time to sleep".

Although it seems slightly paradoxical that something that requires you to have your eyes open for it to work can actually help you go to sleep, but sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley, who has tested it, said: "This could really help people who have difficulty relaxing."

Anything that helps reduce the amount of sleeping pills taken has to be a good thing, but for me, a good book, even though stimulating my brain is still the best way to nod off.


  1. Elizabeth. They plan to sell them through Boots. Alternatively, you can order one directly from their web site at http://www.lightsleeper.co.uk.

    I have not seen or tried one so cannot comment on its effectiveness.


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