Regular daily rhythms prevent depression and bipolar and improve concentration. That’s the conclusion of two new studies. The first is the largest ever on the subject, and looked at activity patterns in 90,000 people with a wrist accelerometer. Those with high activity levels at night and low activity levels in the day had significantly higher risks of developing a mood disorder.

The second study tells us that background light during sleep can cause depression. The risk of depression doubled over a 5-year period in those who slept with even low levels of light in the bedroom compared to those who slept in pitch darkness.

For many years, we’ve used those ideas in behavioral therapies and light/dark therapy to treat depression and bipolar. What’s new about this research is how much it applies to people who don’t have mood problems. Living the way that people have for centuries – rising with the sun and sleeping in the dark – is helpful to everyone.

If you can’t sleep in a pitch dark room, special amber bulbs are available that don’t affect melatonin at night:

Low Blue

Maxxima LED night light

GoodNight light bulb

SCS Nite-Lite bulb

SCS Sleep Ready light bulb