Modern-day life means a growing number of people are suffering from sleep disorders that could lead to serious health problems. Among the main culprits are jet-lag due to international travel and night work.
At Australia’s Flinders University, sleep psychologist Leon Lack believes he has the answer.
It’s called the Re-Timer and looks like a funky pair of sunglasses. These “time control” spectacles emit a soft, blue-green light that stimulates the part of the brain responsible for our circadian rhythm, otherwise known as the body clock, tricking the body into being more alert when awake and sleeping more solidly at bedtime.
“It just occurred to us that light-emitting diodes, that are very small devices, very efficiently convert electricity into light and if they were mounted closer to the eyes, they would get enough light into the eyes and serve the purpose of the light therapy device. So basically, it brought the light source closer to the eyes and diminished the size of the light source,” says Professor Leon Lack, co-developer of the Re-Timer.
Light therapy has been used for years to help regulate the body clock, especially for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder. But earlier devices weren’t very user-friendly – the light box had to be plugged into an electric source and the user had to remain in the same place for a considerable amount of time. The breakthrough here is the small light-emitting diode.
“Our choice of the light-emitting diodes of the blue-green color used in the Re-Timers was based along our long research over the last decade in the types of wavelengths or colors that are most effective at changing the timing of the body clock,” says Professor Lack.
A good night’s sleep comes at a price though: a pair of battery-powered Re-Timers will set you back around 250 euros.