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Ask the Experts

Question:

I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and would like to experiment with dark therapy. Do you have any information or advice that would help me apply the practice?

I plan to also purchase "black-out" curtains and would appreciate any recommendations you have for a vendor.

Answered by: David Kahn

Regulating exposure to light and dark can sometimes help regulate mood swings in bipolar disorder. At night, reducing exposure to light at the blue end of the spectrum can help make sleep easier and help calm hypomania. Computer screens and TV are a frequent source of this exposure, so wearing orange-brown sunglasses, call LBL or "blue blockers" is sometimes suggested.

I am not familiar with the black out curtain concept but it sounds like another way to assist in this area of treatment, sometimes called chronotherapeutics.

I would recommend you visit the webpage for Dr. Michael Terman's Light Therapy program, which you can find under the Clinical Services tab on our home page, listed as "Light Treatment Center," or go right to this URL: http://columbiapsychiatry.org/clinicalservices/light-treatment-center