Light has a dramatic influence on sleep. Early morning exposure to light stimulates the body and mind, promoting sensations of alertness, attentiveness, and vigor. At night, light encourages attentiveness, which may wreak havoc on a person’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. It may be more difficult to fall asleep in the evening if you are exposed to light. Inadequate darkness throughout the night might result in frequent and extended awakenings.
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The impact of darkness on sleep
Sleeping requires darkness. The body receives a crucial signal when there is no light: it is time to slumber. When the body’s internal “sleep clock”—the biological system that controls sleep-wake cycles—is disrupted by light at inappropriate times, it interferes with both the amount and quality of sleep. Melatonin, a hormone generated in the pineal gland of the brain, is often referred to as the “sleep hormone” or “darkness hormone.” Melatonin affects sleep by signaling to the brain that it is time to sleep. This signal triggers the body’s physiological sleep preparations, such as muscular relaxation, tiredness, and a dip in body temperature. Melatonin levels normally increase when darkness falls in the early evening and continue to rise throughout the rest of the night, peaking at about 3 a.m. Melatonin levels then drop in the early morning and stay low for the rest of the day. Evening light exposure delays the commencement of the body’s transition to sleep and sleep itself by inhibiting the normally scheduled increase of melatonin.
As a contemporary sleep issue, light
Humans did not need to seek darkness for much of history. The introduction of electricity in the twentieth century dramatically altered our connection with light and dark, posing major new sleep issues. Artificial light, which is both cheap and ubiquitous, disrupts sleep on a regular basis, with few people even realizing it. The ubiquitous use of digital technology—and the light generated by all those screens—has created a new and very disruptive sleep problem.
Lux and lumen are two units for measuring light
Understanding how light is assessed may aid in bettering your sleep by allowing you to control your exposure to light more wisely. In the universe of light and darkness, there are two significant measurements: lumen and lux. A lumen is a unit of measurement for light intensity or brightness, also known as radiance, at the light source. Light disperses and changes intensity as it goes away from its source. When considering our exposure to light, it’s important to remember that it’s not simply the intensity of the light that counts, but also our distance from it. This is when lux enters the picture. Lux takes lumen numbers and multiplies them by the amount of surface area that light covers. Lumen numbers indicate the brightness of a light bulb, while lux values indicate the brightness of that light in the area where it—and you—are located. Lux readings are sometimes known as “incident light” measurements.
Using lux both indoors and out
Lux is a unit of measurement for all sorts of light, both natural and artificial, and its value varies greatly depending on the source of light, its strength, and its closeness. Here’s a look at lux from a different angle: On a bright summer day, your surroundings may reach 150,000 lux. Consider a gloomy winter day when the sun is further away and obscured: on such a day, a normal lux reading may be as low as 1,000. When darkness strikes at night, lux levels decline. Under a single lux, the moon creates values.
Lux readings of 300-500 may be found in a typical-lit house with lamplight and ceiling lighting, as well as light from the outdoors. Your body’s ability to prepare for sleep is influenced by the lux levels of your surroundings at night. Maintain dim illumination throughout the evening hours to enable your body to go through its regular physiological sleep cycle. The appropriate lux for nighttime activities such as reading should be less than 180 lux. This level of brightness will enable you to remain quietly busy without interfering with your body’s natural sleep cycle. Your bedroom should be dark after the lights have gone off, with a lux level of no more than 5.
Make the lighting suitable for sleeping
Controlling your exposure to light in your house and in your bedroom is essential for a restful night’s sleep. You can build a bedroom that defends against unwelcome light at night and preserves the quality of your sleep until you are ready to get up with awareness, attention, and some easy preparation. Outside light is kept out of your room by using window curtains and shades. Make sure your window coverings are strong enough to completely block light and well-fitted to keep slivers of streetlight or early morning sunshine out. Even a little amount of light may disrupt sleep. Blackout curtains are designed to give this level of complete darkness protection from undesirable light.
Nightlights may be beneficial
Use a nightlight with a red bulb if you need light in the middle of the night to go to the restroom or a child’s room comfortably. Red light has a longer wavelength than other light wavelengths and has been demonstrated to be less disruptive to sleep. If feasible, place the nightlight in a corridor or another room. Needing a tiny light nearby can help you avoid having to fill your room with unwelcome, sleep-disrupting light in the middle of the night.
Time is required for the body to prepare for sleep. A sleep schedule with a progressively darker atmosphere may be beneficial. Dim the lights one hour before bedtime to help your body start the natural process of falling asleep. Control the brightness of overhead lights using a dimmer switch, or use low-watt, dimmable bulbs in lamps. Switch off the television, turn off laptops and tablets, and put your phone away for the night 1 hour before bedtime. Digital gadget light produces significant levels of blue light, a wavelength of light that has been found in studies to be particularly harmful to sleep.
A eye mask worn at night may assist to darken the room and block out distracting light. Choose a soft, comfortable, and flexible mask. Wearing an eye mask takes some getting used to, but it’s a powerful tool for lowering your nighttime light exposure.
Being aware of the effects of light on the body will cause you to pay more attention to the light that surrounds you at all times of the day and night. One simple and crucial strategy to safeguard and enhance your nocturnal rest is to spend a little time ensuring a dark sleeping environment.