Evolutionary conditioning tells us that day time is the time to stay awake while the night is to rest.
Indoor lights and lamps allow us to remain awake past sunset. But people who lived during the industrial age, exhibited different sleep patterns than us. Before the invention of artificial lights, people relied on daylight to get everything done.
Light and sleep have a deep connection. This is because our brain does not produce melatonin in the presence of light. Being a hormone that plays a crucial role in the natural sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is vital for good sleep.
This is why you find it hard to fall asleep in a bright or well lit room. On the other hand, blue light affects melatonin more than any other wavelength. Light from computers, iPads and TV is stimulating enough to trick your brain into believing that it’s still day-time.
Hence, experts recommend changing the color of your light instead of dimming it for guaranteeing a more comfortable and deep sleep at night.
Typically, light sets our internal clock – synchronizing it with the appropriate time. But problems arise if our exposure to light alters due to travelling to different time zones or working at night. Our internal clock influences the ability to sleep throughout a 24 hour time period and the stages of sleep we experience during blissful slumber.
People who are unable to sleep at night can suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia later in their life.
Apart from melatonin production, there are other factors that affect our sleep patterns. A poor mattress or an unhealthy diet can also trigger insomnia. People who work night-shifts also have trouble maintaining a healthy shut-eye routine. When you sleep during the day, the sunlight streaming in through the windows and doors constantly tell your body that it’s time to be awake. This effect results in waking up tired, no matter how long you sleep.
There are a few ways you can ensure that light does not affect your regular sleep cycle.
- Use low wattage light bulbs for your bedside tables, preferably up to 40 watts.
- Get dimmers for your overhead light switch
- Create a low-light atmosphere an hour before your bedtime
- Use blackout curtains to block sun-light if you only get to sleep during daytime hours. Also, using an eye mask is an easy and affordable option.
- Stay away from self-luminous displays. Light that imitates sunlight can wreak havoc on your sleep quality.
Changes in sleep patterns affect the body’s natural clock, referred to as the circadian rhythm. Scientific studies have revealed that these changes can drastically affect our health since it controls many functions of the human body.
Since our home environment influences the quantity and quality of our sleep, it is important that we create the perfect ambiance to enjoy a peaceful sleep, ideally at night. Take care of variables such as noise and temperature. Identify and eliminate the factors that distract you and cause stress. It is important to limit your screen time so that your brain can start preparing your body for sleep.