Australian Researchers from Flinders University have developed special LED light-glasses designed to re-calibrate our biological clocks and overcome problems such as insomnia and jet lag. The product of 15 years research into the use of bright light to treat problems with body clocks, the glasses release a safe blue light directly into the eyes of the wearer that helps reset the body clock to the appropriate time.
The portable, light-weight glasses run on a 9V battery meaning the treatment can take place while a person performs normal daily tasks, a distinct advantage over other light therapies that require mains power and bulky, immobile light-boxes. The body clock (or circadian rhythm) is our biological response to the cycles of the sun, moon and seasons – it's what makes us alert in the mornings and sleepy at night – and as anyone who has experienced a long-flight or worked night-shift knows, throwing this 24 hour rhythm into chaos can result in prolonged exhaustion.
By tinkering with our bodies' response to light, the circadian rhythm can be adjusted to combat these problems. In regard to night shift work, bright light stimulation in the early morning can delay the body clock up to 6 hours, meaning that workers won't feel sleepy until the middle of the day.
The glasses can also be used to assist in treating jetlag by supplementing the recommended daytime exposure to sunlight and insomniacs can use the treatment in the morning (if the problem is getting to sleep at night) or in the evening (if waking up too early is the issue).
"Use of Re-Time LED light glasses does not represent a single niche market," said Dr Thomas Duthy of Flinders Technologies Pty. Ltd., the company responsible for commercializing the glasses. "The insomnia market is worth US$5 billion and 94% of all long haul air travelers suffer from Jet Lag. Seasonal depression effects 35 million U.S. citizens and 10 per cent of Northern Europe while in Australia 2 million people suffer from various forms of insomnia."
The special glasses were featured at the Commercialisation Forum and Fair of Ideas in Sydney during March 2003.