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My Interesting Circadian Disability
Old 12-03-2014, 12:44 PM   #1
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My Interesting Circadian Disability

Back when I did research on the visual system, no one had a clue that some retinal ganglion cells were photosensitive.

Now it's clear that these guys are important for regulating the circadian rhythm in humans, that is, signalling when it's daytime and when it's night.

Because of my tendency to wake up way too early, I was researching this, and I suddenly realized: Because I fell on a stick and cut my right optic nerve as a kid, my brain is only getting half the signal that a normal person's brain would get.

I can't be sure that this makes a difference, but I'm going to see if I can compensate with nighttime melatonin supplements and a light box in the early evening.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:52 PM   #2
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Because of my tendency to wake up way too early, I was researching this, and I suddenly realized: Because I fell on a stick and cut my right optic nerve as a kid, my brain is only getting half the signal that a normal person's brain would get.
What about those of us who have two healthy optic nerves and still wake up way too early?
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:28 PM   #3
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What about those of us who have two healthy optic nerves and still wake up way too early?
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:37 PM   #4
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What about those of us who have two healthy optic nerves and still wake up way too early?
I am not sure if this is prostate problem or caused by getting up at 5:00 AM for 35+ years, but sure wish I could break the habit.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:47 PM   #5
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I have the same issue. I already own 2 bottles of melatonin and a light, both of which I tried once. Maybe they helped some but they were enough of a p in the a that I don't use them.

My biggest problem is when I have to go #1 at night then can't get back to sleep.
So now I just don't drink much at night, try to sleep the night through, and then when I wake up and can't get back to sleep, I get up. Usually it's the thought of coffee that makes me get up.
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:52 PM   #6
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What about those of us who have two healthy optic nerves and still wake up way too early?
I have struggled with this for nearly 4 years. Am having a little bit of success as I have improved from 4 hrs of sleep to 6 hours most nights.

For starters, I'm 53 and am in mostly good shape. Hormones started being a problem a few years after the sleep problems, so I am on synthroid and Testosterone for over 2 years and have had a terrible time managing sleep.

Reading stuff over at MarksDailyApple and other places, I learned about the sleep benefits of resistant starch. Those guys are gluten free so they use potato starch. I gave that a try. It might of helped. But I Did not care for it and the side affects.

The idea behind resistant starch is it digests in the large intestine and the process of feeding those bacteria supports sleep.

Further reading into resistant starch, I learned that bread and Green apples are good sources. So I have bread (hearty, whole grain) and Olive oil for breakfast everyday and a granny smith apple during the day.

I also find that I sleep better when I additionally take large amounts of Vitamin D and its support team (K2, Calcium and Magnesium).

Nothing scientific here, but I have generally improved my sleep such that my puppy now wakes me up in the morning!


FYI - resistant starch
Resistant Starch Diet: 10 Foods for Healthier Gut Flora | Slism
How to Experiment with Resistant Starch | Mark's Daily Apple
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:22 PM   #7
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Don't circadias come every seventeen years?
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:28 PM   #8
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I predict another book in T-Al's future.
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Old 12-03-2014, 11:28 PM   #9
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The most effective bright-light therapy I have tested so far involves migrating to the desert southwest November through March and spending as much time as possible outside. I highly recommend it.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:53 AM   #10
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What about those of us who have two healthy optic nerves and still wake up way too early?
It's hard to sleep reasonable hours in retirement! At least, it is for me. My problem is slightly different, in that I just don't want to go to bed early enough.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:04 AM   #11
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Back when I did research on the visual system, no one had a clue that some retinal ganglion cells were photosensitive.

Now it's clear that these guys are important for regulating the circadian rhythm in humans, that is, signalling when it's daytime and when it's night.

Because of my tendency to wake up way too early, I was researching this, and I suddenly realized: Because I fell on a stick and cut my right optic nerve as a kid, my brain is only getting half the signal that a normal person's brain would get.

I can't be sure that this makes a difference, but I'm going to see if I can compensate with nighttime melatonin supplements and a light box in the early evening.
At the bottom of the wiki page you linked is an article:

Morning Light
blue light and melatonin

After reading that I installed a blue filter app on my android. My circadian clock is off at times, and I'll give more attention to blue light exposure in the evening.

It is also possible to change the color temperature of your monitor.

If I understand this correctly, as the day progresses sunlight appears very blue in the morning, and melatonin production is shut off. As the afternoon turns to evening, the sunlight appears more red-orange, and melatonin production increases.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:12 AM   #12
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Good luck Al. I am up at least once every night due to a need to #1. Luckily I go right back to sleep. I hope that continues into older old age. If you get the circadian rhythm fixed I hope you don't just discover that your bladder/prostate takes over wrecking your night.
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:19 AM   #13
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Wow, glad I'm not alone! I've been an insomniac most of my life (tends to come in periodic spurts for weeks at a time). Now living stress-free life, exercise almost every day.......and still rarely get a good night's sleep. I just accept it, although I hate it when I can't stay awake past halftime of the nighttime football games.
In my case, about once every 3 weeks I'll take one of my prescription Ambien to get one decent night's sleep.
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Old 12-04-2014, 01:01 PM   #14
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I don't have much faith in most things on the internet, but here's what I'm basing my efforts on:

Advanced and Delayed Sleep Phase Treated With Bright Light | Chapter 6 of Brighten Your Life, an eBook by Daniel F. Kripke, M.D.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:29 PM   #15
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At yoga class the other night, we had a discussion about early awakening. Most of us said that if we got up and moved to another room and turned on the tv, we went right back to sleep. This is true for me. I have a tv in my room, but if I turn it on, I don't go back to sleep - I have to change rooms. Anyone else do this? Seems odd to me, but it works...
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:46 PM   #16
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At yoga class the other night, we had a discussion about early awakening. Most of us said that if we got up and moved to another room and turned on the tv, we went right back to sleep. This is true for me. I have a tv in my room, but if I turn it on, I don't go back to sleep - I have to change rooms. Anyone else do this? Seems odd to me, but it works...
I get up, change rooms and still can't get back to sleep. Maybe it's because I make some coffee, and drink it while I check this forum plus other internet "information sources".
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Old 12-04-2014, 06:18 PM   #17
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Most of us said that if we got up and moved to another room and turned on the tv, we went right back to sleep. Anyone else do this? Seems odd to me, but it works...
I do this and it usually does not work for me. Here's an example in which I was out of bed for about an hour and a half.

Orange=awake
Green=REM
Dark Green=deep sleep

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Old 12-04-2014, 06:22 PM   #18
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Some people are fast caffeine metabolisers and some people are slow caffeine metabolisers, plus caffeine (actually all drug) metabolism slows down with age. If you indulge, you might try cutting back. Early morning sun exposure triggers melatonin production and some people can really improve their sleep just be going outdoors early every morning.

I had trouble sleeping through the night after menopause, but the magic little patch does the trick, there.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:15 PM   #19
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An interesting experiment would be to use a light box for a full two hours before going to bed. If that made it harder than normal to fall asleep, that would suggest that it does make a difference.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:18 PM   #20
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Some people are fast caffeine metabolisers and some people are slow caffeine metabolisers, plus caffeine (actually all drug) metabolism slows down with age. If you indulge, you might try cutting back.
Some people who feel that caffeine doesn't bother them at all, are not fully aware of how many foods really do have at least SOME caffeine. Here is a Mayo Clinic list that was an eye opener to me:

Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more - Mayo Clinic

It is unlikely that I would ever fall asleep, no matter how exhausted I might be, if I have consumed *any* caffeine at all for the prior 12 hours. Just a glass of iced tea at lunch is enough to keep me up.

I'm not saying that eliminating caffeine solved my sleep problems, but I am certain that I don't stand a chance of sleeping normally if I have any caffeine after noon. Despite that, I do have a diet Coke at lunch time about once or twice a month, simply because I am such an imperfect individual.

When I was younger, I could drink 5-6 cups of strong coffee, fall asleep immediately, and sleep for 10 hours or more. But now that I am 66, my body's response to caffeine has changed tremendously.
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