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An enlightened approach to insomnia, depressed mood, fatigue, and other sleep-related problems of everyday life, harnessing the power of light therapy to reset the natural clock.
Sleep problems and depressed mood often go hand in hand, forming a frustrating cycle. Michael Terman, PhD, has devoted his career to studying the brain functions that feed these disorders. His discoveries in chronotherapy have been widely recognized as game-changers by the medical establishment, and his 2010 New York Times op-ed, “Sleeping (or Not) by the Wrong Clock,” shot to number one on the paper’s list of most-forwarded online articles. InChronotherapy, Terman and McMahan reveal the heart of his findings, a powerful program that recalibrates our internal clocks—our exquisitely designed, natural sensitivity to the timing and brightness of light exposure. These delicate mechanisms are often decimated by the modern demands of a 24/7 lifestyle.
Beginning with a questionnaire that pinpoints the problem areas, Terman helps readers decipher when their natural internal night begins and ends. The treatment process can then start, incorporating the power of natural light and, when necessary, supplemental light therapy. His approach has brought relief to thousands of sleep sufferers, as well as those burdened by bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, depression, sleep disorders due to around-the-clock work schedules, and other impediments to vibrant health. For the first time, his findings are now available for a general audience, sharing the essential elements of chronobiology in clear, authoritative, scientifically grounded chapters that are easy to apply to a variety of situations.
Chronotherapy chapters include:
PART ONE: TIME, SLEEP, AND RHYTHMSChapter 1: External vs. Internal Time
The clock on the wall measures twenty-four hours every day, but the clock in your brain runs a little different. How can you help them work together?
Chapter 2: The Pressure to Sleep
The longer you stay awake, the more pressure you feel to sleep. But what if your inner clock says it is not yet ready for sleep?
Chapter 3: Owls, Larks, and Hummingbirds
What kind of “bird” are you? And once you know, how can that help you figure out when best to get stuff done?
PART TWO: TIME, LIGHT, AND THE BRAIN
Chapter 4: Getting Light into the Brain
How do your eyes pass signals to your inner clock, and what makes those signals so important?
Chapter 5: Getting Light Wrong
Seeing light and being in darkness are basic daily experiences. But what happens when they come at the wrong times, and why does that have such negative consequences for mood, alertness, and sleep?
Chapter 6: Geography and Time
East or west, south or north, how can where you live have such a huge impact on your mood and sleep?
PART THREE: INTERVENTIONS
Chapter 7: Healing Light
How can light help you solve your sleep problems, have more energy, and feel more positive about life? Why do the details matter so much?
Chapter 8: Nighttime Meds and Melatonin
Do you rely on pills to get to sleep? They may not work, and they may be bad for you. But a new approach based on the brain’s inner clock holds great promise.
Chapter 9: Hospitalized with Depression
When someone becomes so depressed they need to go to the hospital, what promise does chronotherapy offer for a quick turnaround and continued improvement?
Chapter 10: Beyond Light: The Charge in the Air
What is it about spending a day at the beach that gives you such a lift? And how can you use new technology to bring that feeling of wellbeing into your home?
PART FOUR: STAGES OF LIFE
Chapter 11: The Promise of Pregnancy
You are going to have a baby! You are thrilled, but a little apprehensive too. How can chronotherapy help you through
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“Like all living organisms, we have an internal clock that sets the timing of our daily behavior and physiology. Also shared is our sensitivity to the environmental fluctuations of light and darkness. Chronobiology seeks to harness this new knowledge to understand critical aspects of the ‘when’ and ‘why’ of human behavior. Why does someone become depressed at this particular time of year? Why does one’s attention flag every afternoon at the same time? Why can’t our children go to sleep until well after midnight? Chronotherapy picks up the baton, seeking to provide rhythm-changing interventions that address these problems. And there is no one that has led the development of this field more so than psychologist Michael Terman of Columbia University. From the now-mainstream use of bright light therapy, through explanations of melatonin usage, sleep timing modifications, and dawn simulation—the full range of rhythm-shifting strategies is laid out in basic and elegant fashion. This book points us towards a new and enriched age of mental health care.”
— John Gottlieb, M.D., Northwestern University, from the Foreword
Michael Terman, PhD, is a leading authority on the circadian clock and directs the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He also founded the Center for Environmental Therapeutics and has been widely featured in the media, including on the major TV networks, NPR, and international news syndicates.
Ian McMahan, PhD, is a widely published, award-winning developmental psychologist whose work includes fiction as well as academic and scholarly texts. He is a professor emeritus of psychology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
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