A good night’s rest is imperative to anyone looking to get the most out of tomorrow! But how often do you lie down for bed just to feel drowsy and unmotivated the next day? Well, the truth is there are many factors that go into deciding whether or not the time you spent asleep will actually rejuvenate you. And because of this, you should be doing everything in your power to ensure your sleep is a good night’s sleep. There are some smaller factors that can affect your overall health. These are activities such as eating before bed or spending prolonged time in front of a screen while lying in bed. But, the biggest factor on your mood, health, and internal clock is the level of light you try to sleep with. Let’s see how sleeping with the lights on may affect your sleep quality.
How light can affect sleep
Sleeping with the lights on is harmful to the quality of your sleep. A research shows that especially those who live in the area with a lot of outdoor nighttime lights suffer most. To put the reason as simple as possible, our brain is a very easy part of the body to trick. Any excess light while you’re attempting to sleep causes confusion in the brain which can cause the pineal gland to not produce enough melatonin, the hormone your brain produces to help you fall asleep.
Problems with the production of melatonin can lead to many sleepless nights, the REM cycles. Melatonin level is naturally low during the day time and starts rising in the early evening as the darkness falls. It keeps growing and approximately at 3-3:30 am reaches a peak. Without this hormone the muscles remain tight, you won’t feel drowsiness and your whole body and mind will continue working.
Sleep is important as while asleep your body can focus on healing and repairing itself and the brain, but most of the fixing your body will do takes place during “Rapid Eye Movement” or REM sleep. With too much light pollution in your bedroom, the lack of melatonin in the brain can easily damage your sleeping schedule. Not only does the light level make it harder to fall asleep, but it can remove the most important part of sleep stop your body from reaching REM sleep. This will cause heavy drowsiness and grumpiness the next morning. Lack of REM sleep can have many diverse negative effects such as increased inflammatory responses, increased risk of obesity, and memory issues if it continues for too long.
Internal Clock work can be ruined
Aside from messing up your sleep cycles, having a lit-up bedroom can also work to ruin your circadian rhythm or your “Internal Clock.” Circadian rhythm regulates sleep-wake cycle to create a stable schedule of rest and day time activity. However, the cycle can be ruined when sleeping with the lights on prolonged time. This is due to the lack of melatonin production and can lead to a reversed sleep schedule if left unchecked for too long.
This, in theory, means your body and brain will no longer recognize when it is night or day outside. Usually this results in the body not feeling tired when it rightfully should, and you feeling like you didn’t get any sleep when comes morning. A heavily disrupted circadian clock can harm your mood, causing mood swings and general irritability. Moreover, one of the most widespread sleeping problems related to circadian rhythm is insomnia almost 30-40% of adults suffering from it. Person’s internal clock influences mental health as well causing psychiatric diseases like depression, bipolar disorder or even dementia. To top it off, it can be exceedingly difficult to reset your internal clock!
Measuring the light influence
If we say about light we have to admit that not all lights have the same level of influence and there are two measurements that are used to differentiate them: lux and lumen. Lumen is the measurement of the light brightness or radiance and it shows the intense of the source of the light. When to measure the light, it is important to know not only the source of the light, but also how bright a particular surface appears. And this is about lux. In other words, lux measures how much light falls in a particular place.
If we take the sun a source of the light, it’s level ranges between 100,000 lux under the direct day light to 1,000 lux in a cloudy day. A typical home with lamplights will have lux in the range of 300-500 and this normal amount. Lux value plays a great role in developing sleep-walk cycle, since with the dark appears the feeling of drowsiness. Therefore, during pre-bedtime activities lux level should be less than 180. This level of brightness will allow you to switch from active mode to passive and to help your body to get ready for sleeping.
Choose the right nightlight
No method is easy (or fun) and most involve making yourself sleep when you don’t want to, or stay awake far longer than you should. It just isn’t worth the toll on your mood, body, or mind sleeping in a room with lights on. The list of negatives far outweighs any reason you may give yourself to keep your room lit while you sleep.
If it is still important for you to have some light in the room, it has been shown that red nightlight bulbs don’t affect melatonin production the same way as other colored bulbs. Red is a long wavelength light, so it is less disruptive comparing with others. Better to have small light not in the bedroom, but in the hallway or another room. And while still not as good for your sleep as a completely dark room, it is much better for your health than any other light.
Moreover, before going to bed avoid digital devices: turn off TV, power of your computer, laptop, tablet and put away your phone. Because digital screens emit highly disruptive blue light and researches show that a wavelength of blue light has detrimental effect on healthy sleep quality.
How to teach children to sleep in the darkness
There are not many adults who feel uncomfortable sleeping in the dark, but it is totally different when it comes to children. Majority children are scared of sleeping in the darkness and start crying when the lights are off. No need to force children to sleep in the dark room ignoring their fear, this may lead to serious mental problems in future. Put in the children’s room low-watt dimmable bulbs that won’t disturb them and kids also won’t feel fear. You may switch it off when your kids fall asleep.
The best way to teach children to sleep in the darkness is to start it when they are still newborn. At that time babies do not know about the outer environment and they will easily adapt to the environment that you create for them. Therefore, if you turn off the lights from the beginning they will get used to sleep in the darkness easily.
Sleeping time is the most important part of your life, so create the best environment for your healthy sleep and enjoy your night with proper rest.