How light affects sleep quality

Posted by Maya Pillai.
 
If you’ve ever stared at the ceiling while your partner slept soundly beside you, you’ve probably investigated most insomnia solutions known.
 
The question then is, do you know what the impact of light is?
 
It has become increasing well researched that one of the most important external elements that affect sleep is light. Researchers have found that light controls the timing of our internal body clocks. This happens as the light sensitive cells at the back of our eyes send messages to the brain on whether it is day or night time, thereby setting our wake/sleep patterns.
 
The journal Applied Ergonomics goes further and looks into the specific kind of light and suggests that if you are exposed to luminous back-lit displays on your tablets and smartphones, this can suppress melatonin, which in turn will affect your body’s natural sleep-wake pattern.
 
It turns out the amount (or lack) of light affects the pineal gland which secretes melatonin which sets your sleep/wake clock. For instance, sleeping with a bedside lamp on at nighttime can block the stimulation of the pineal gland thereby causing the level of melatonin secretion to drop. Which in turn, may well bring on a sleepless night.
 

Light therapy is used to regulate and tackle the sleep related issues such as insomnia in an individual. For those people who are suffering from insomnia, there are lighting products that has an effect similar to the natural sunlight on one’s body. These lamps are known as full-spectrum lights. These lights help to regulate a person’s circadian cycle.
 
There are products such as sun alarm that can be used to wake you up from sleep. These send the rays that resemble the first light of sun at the dawn. The light from the sun alarm sends signal to the brain to secrete serotonin, which is the wake-up hormone that wakes you up. The sun alarm is also used to simulate sunsets, which helps the body to fall asleep.
 
If you want to improve your light hygiene, here are few steps that you can take:
 

  • Reduce the usage of electronic equipments that emit blue light to minimum at night. Try installing f.lux on your computer to cut down on the emission of blue light.

  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible.
  • Shut your television, laptop at least one hour before you go to bed.
  • If you are unable to be in sunlight during the day, ensure you have a full-spectrum light in your work or home space.

 
We hope that with a basic understanding of how light affects our sleep quality, you too will soon be sleeping like a baby.
 
 
 

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