University of Buffalo invention takes new approach to fighting insomnia

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The key to a good night’s sleep could in a pair of goggles.

They’re called Re-timers, and aim to fix a condition more than 60 million Americans suffer from; insomnia.

“Artificial light is the problem. Many years ago, we didn’t have artificial light so we were sleeping more,” said Associate Prof. Grace Dean of UB’s School of Nursing.

Dean is spear-heading this one-of-a-kind study by fighting fire with fire.

The Re-timers are new to the medical market, and use green LED lighting to trigger the brain’s natural sleep cycle.

“You shut off Melatonin with bright light. So that’s what we’re trying to do with this device, is shut Melatonin off early in the morning to phase advance your sleep rhythms so that you can go to sleep in the evening and wake up in the morning,” Dean told News 4.

She and her team are looking for insomniacs to give the Re-timers a try.

They’re specifically looking for lung cancer patients; up to 80 percent of them have serious trouble sleeping.

“We know when there’s a lack of sleep, it affects people’s quality of life. It can affect how you feel, how you function,” said Prof. Suzanne Dickerson of UB’s School of Nursing, who’s also involved in the research.

During this pilot trial, the Re-timers will only need to be worn once a day for around 30 minutes.

They’re lightweight and can be charged at any USB port.

So why green light? Dean said green light offsets Melatonin the best, helping you feel more awake during the day.

The Re-timers could be especially helpful during the winter months, when there’s not a lot of natural light. Or, on any rainy day.

“Today’s a rainy day, and everyone’s like dragging around, and I said ‘I need to wear those this morning to get more energy,’” Dickerson told News 4.

If the research goes as planned, Dean and Dickerson think the Re-timers could be worn by everyone.

“These could be the new sun glasses,” Dean said.

Currently UB is working with Rosewell Park and the VA to get 40 pilot trial participants.

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