Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that bright lights in the morning could help chronically poor sleepers set their circadian rhythms, or "body clocks," on a more regular pattern. According to Jean R. Joseph-Vanderpool, M.D., who conducted sleep research there for many years, many people find they just can't get started in the morning. That's why when his research subjects woke up, say, around 8:00 a.m., they were placed in front of high-intensity, full-spectrum fluorescent lights for 2 hours—strong light that resembles what you might encounter on a summer morning in Washington, D.C. Those lights, in turn, told the body it's morning and time to get moving. Then, in the evening, they would wear dark glasses so that their bodies would know it was time to begin to wind down.
After several weeks of the therapy, Dr. Joseph-Vanderpool's patients reported more alertness in the morning and better sleep at night. At home, he says, you can accomplish the same effect by walking around the neighborhood, sitting in the sun, or doing some yardwork as soon as you arise. During the winter, consult your doctor about the best type of artificial light to use.