Since the invention of the light bulb man has been able to override the natural cycle of sleep.
Before this revolutionary invention, we were awake with the rise of the sun and asleep with the setting of the sun. When darkness descends it triggers the production of sleep-inducing hormones and set the body’s recuperative processes in motion. Exposure to light at night time is enough to make your body feel alert, including the lights in your home; mobile phones, tablets and laptops. These devices all blur your body’s ability to differentiate between day and night.
Succumbing to the lure of Facebook, checking emails, browsing online or playing games on your tablets before bedtime is not the precursor to a good night’s sleep. These devices emit blue light that tricks our brains into thinking that it’s daytime.
According to a Harvard Health publication, “At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack and sleep suffers”. The circadian rhythm is the behavioural, mental and physical changes our body undergoes during a 24 hour cycle. It affects the body clock – the body mechanism that signals the body when to sleep and to wake up. Medical research suggests that exposure to blue light emitted by electronic gadgets suppress the production of melatonin – a hormone responsible for controlling the sleep and wake cycle.
Here’s some tips to prevent light from stealing your sleep:
- Go outside and expose yourself to plenty of light during the day. This can regulate your circadian rhythm.
- Dim or turn bright lights off in the home 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
- Replace room lights with low wattage or ‘warm’ yellow light bulbs and use lamps for mood lighting.
- Turn off gadgets (mobile phones, tablets, laptops) at least one hour before bedtime and leave them out of the bedroom.
- Keep your bedroom completely dark or use a sleep mask.
- We know that these situations are unavoidable so if you do have to work at night (especially to those who do shift work) consider wearing blue-blocking glasses like amber-lensed goggles, or most phones have a blue light filter these days that you can turn on.