Light & Sleep
The relationship between sleep and light is much more closely linked than you could imagine. Fundamentally, all light - natural and artificial - affects the way we sleep in some capacity, but not all light will have the same impact on our body’s natural timing.
In the absence of light, your brain will naturally produce critical hormones to promote sleep. As we wind down from the day, our melatonin levels rise, initiating a response of drowsiness, muscle relaxation and a drop in your body temperature. If we were able to listen and interpret these signs our quality of sleep would be much higher.
Unfortunately, in the modern day we are universally connected to the internet 24/7. Our laptops and phones have almost become a physical extension of our body, yet this digital alertness is having a serious impact on our bodies circadian rhythm. The blue and green light given off from your computer, phone or tablet will neutralize the natural effects of melatonin.
As a study on the Effects of Light on Human Circadian Rhythm explains: “One of the biggest threats to our relationship with sleep is the type of light that we see, and the timing that we get it during the day or night.”
Blue and green wavelengths omit from our favourite pieces of technology (Phone, computers, tablets, TVs - all the good stuff) and are incredibly beneficial during the daylight hours, boosting your attention, reaction time and even mood. At night however, they are completely disruptive.
While it’s true that all light can suppress our secretion of sleep hormones, blue and green light just does it so much more powerfully. Harvard Researchers have found that blue light can suppress melatonin for twice as long as green light, shifting your circadian rhythm by twice as much.
How can one best prep themselves with light to avoid affecting sleep?
- Avoid looking at bright screens two - three hours before bed
- Exposure to lots of bright (preferably natural) light during the day will boost your ability to sleep at night
- Use dim red lights for night lights (reading, etc.) as red is the least likely to shift your circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin
Light, especially artificial light, is one of the biggest threats to our sleep, health and overall well-being in today’s society. We here at Dreamers believe we all need to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep.
Image credit: Matias Alonso Revelli