Dr. Doug Hanner

Dr. Doug Hanner

Dr. Hanner is particularly interested in how the chronic effects of trauma and prolonged stress impact both our mental and physical well-being. He has seen first-hand how resolving and integrating the effects of trauma in an individual, can have miraculous effects on both physical and mental illness.

Lifestyle: Light

As previously mentioned, our ancestors went to sleep soon after sunset and got up when the sun rose. Before the age of artificial light, sunset would trigger something in our ancestors that would make them sleepy, the release of melatonin. It is the absence of light that triggers this release. Melatonin doesn’t just guide us into blissful sleep; it assists in regulating immune function, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. It is anti-inflammatory, reduces symptoms of depression, and helps prevent cancer. Unfortunately, exposure to artificial light at night suppresses melatonin production, throws off your biological clock, impairs quality sleep, and alters your physiology that can negatively impact your health in many different ways.

Just as the absence of light helps us to have healthy melatonin production in the evenings, the presence of intense light helps us to have proper cortisol production in the mornings. This vital steroid hormone is an essential component in immune modulation, blood-pressure regulation, and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. 50% of the total daily cortisol production should occur in the first hour after awakening. Providing exposure to bright light within that time helps to reset a healthy cortisol release pattern.

Light Strategies:

  • Dim the lights as much as possible at sunset.
  • Cut out screen time 2 hours before going to sleep.
  • Purchase glasses that block blue light wavelengths. One way to mitigate the effect that artificial light has on us is to wear orange-tinted glasses that block blue light. It is the blue light wavelength that interferes with melatonin’s release. Putting these on at dusk will help keep melatonin production on track.
    • inexpensive yet effective brands can be found at amazon.com.
  • Use a sleep mask or blackout shades.
  • Increase your exposure to light in the morning and during the day. If the sun is shining in the morning, take a walk outside for 20 minutes.
  • Over 50% of your daily cortisol production occurs within the first hour after awakening. Exposure to bright light within that first hour can be beneficial in resetting your Circadian Rhythm and hormone levels.
  • You can also purchase bright lights to place in front of yourself as you start the day. An example is the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp – 10,000 LUX, which can be found on Amazon.
  • Make sleep a priority. Reset your body by removing light at night and adding it in the mornings.

Dr. Doug Hanner

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