Sleep—how much sleep we get and how well we sleep—is profoundly affected by light. Light exposure at the wrong time can interfere with sleep, keeping you alert and preventing you from falling asleep. Exposure to light at the right time of day on the other hand, can actually help you sleep well at night. In particular, the first hour in the morning can make or break whether you sleep soundly at the end of the day.
Sunlight plays a critical role in regulating not only our sleeping patterns, but a collection of other bodily processes, including our appetite, body temperature cycle, hormone production and cardiovascular regulation. These cycles are created internally in our brain, in what is commonly referred to as our body clock. And this clock is primarily controlled by – you guessed it – the sun.
Sunshine spurs the body’s production of vitamin D and controls the release of hormones essential for good health and quality sleep. It can even help you wake without an alarm clock.
To stay in sync with the 24-hour day, it is important to expose your body to sunlight first thing in the morning so your body temperature, energy levels and alertness stay high during the day.
A few simple ways to incorporate more sunshine exposure into your morning include:
- Opening the curtains or blinds while you get ready
- Eating your breakfast in the sun
- Going for an early morning walk.
If you regularly work night shifts, this can wreak havoc with your body clock. To help set yourself up for effective sleep, try wearing dark glasses on your way home after a shift to minimise the amount of light your eyes are exposed to, and try to get a solid sleep of at least six hours.
If you can’t get out into the morning sun, A.H. Beard’s Nox Smart Sleep Light can help. It produces a range of coloured lights – from soft yellow to bright white – to stimulate the changing colours of the sunrise. Pair the Nox with an A.H. Beard RestOn Sleep Tracker, and it will wake you up at the lightest part of your sleep cycle. At bedtime, the soft red light and soothing sounds will help you drift off to the land of nod.