Light And Sleep: How Light Affects Sleep Quality
Light And Sleep: How Light Affects Sleep Quality
When it comes to sleeping, we usually only consider light in terms of its absence. We want light while we are awake, and darkness when we sleep. But have you ever wondered about how light affects sleep quality? You’ll be surprised how much power light holds on our sleeping patterns.
In this blog, our aim is to introduce you to the science of light and sleep. You’ll understand how light is a key element that regulates our internal body clock and how it interacts with different systems that affect sleeping quality and duration.
We’ll also provide some recommendations and tips to help you create healthier habits when it comes to light exposure and sleep.
How does light affect sleep?
Let’s begin by explaining how natural light exposure helps your body regulate your sleep-wake cycle and how it affects overall sleep. Your sleeping patterns can be directly affected by the amount of light and the kind of light you are exposed to.
We will use three fundamental concepts to explain how this happens: circadian rhythm, melatonin, and sleep cycles.
The best way to describe circadian rhythms is by using a clock for an analogy. A circadian rhythm is an internal clock of an organism that helps the body regulate different body activities.
Sleep is one of the main functions regulated by our circadian rhythm, and this rhythm is greatly influenced and regulated by light exposure.
As such, light exposure is the key element that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, which dictates the time that you spend active and awake from the time you spend resting.
How does light regulate your circadian rhythm? It happens through different stimuli that are present in our surroundings which are perceived by our body.
Light is one of the most important stimuli. It works by entering through your eyes, signaling your brain, and preparing your body for daily activities.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland. It is responsible for the feeling of sleepiness when night time comes.
Melatonin increases as a response to darkness, and as it builds up it helps your body in the transition to sleep by making you feel sleepy.
As you can probably guess, light disrupts the production of melatonin, delaying the circadian rhythm, and preventing sleepiness.
In today's world, artificial light tends to be a major disruption of melatonin production around bedtime. Natural light decreases throughout the day, but artificial light is always available to be used on demand.
You might be surprised to know that even though most people sleep around eight hours, the totality of the hours spent don’t constitute a cycle.
You go through several sleep cycles while you sleep, and these cycles usually last from seventy to a hundred and twenty minutes each.
A sleep cycle has non-rapid eye movement phases and a rapid eye movement phase, better known as R.E.M. This last phase is the one where the body gets the deepest rest.
Light exposure can disrupt the way your sleep cycle passes from phase to phase and can interfere with the quality of your rest.
Now that we’ve explained how light can affect your sleep, let’s take a moment to appreciate why and how this occurs in our daily lives.
How technology changed the way we relate to light and sleep
As we’ve explained in the previous section, light can affect your sleep patterns by way of your internal clock, which is regulated through direct contact with your environment.
In modern times, technology has changed the way we relate to light and has consequences on our circadian rhythms.
In ancient times, our internal clocks were regulated mostly through the natural light of the sun, and our bodies reacted to the cycle of the sun.
As time passed, civilization found new ways to control the amount of light we were subjected to by using fire to light up our spaces in the absence of the sun, until we progressed to using electricity and artificial lights that are present in every home, ready to be used.
This completely changed the way we relate to light exposure, and nowadays has gone even further by the daily use of screens, such as cellphones, tablets, computers, and televisions.
Technology has brought fundamental changes in the way we interact with light in our daily lives, and has greatly increased the way light affects our sleep.
It is time to introduce you to blue light, since it is the kind of light that has the greatest effect on our sleep cycles.
Blue light has many different sources, the most natural being the sun. However, another source of blue light comes from screens, the kind we use in our tech gadgets such as smart phones and computers.
Exposure to blue light is actually good for us during daytime, since it is a natural part of our circadian rhythm regulation. The issue comes when we are overly exposed to more blue light than we should, or we are especially exposed to it during the evening.
Blue light can be quite disruptive for the transition into a resting state because it activates an organism into a state of alertness and therefore can be detrimental for sleep.
What can you do to minimize the impact of light exposure on your sleep?
Now that you understand why and how light can affect your sleep, we would like to give you a couple of tips to minimize its impact on your sleeping quality. Let’s take a look at the following list.
Go full dark
A great way to avoid light exposure is to go as dark as possible. Choose the darkest room in the house to use as your bedroom or make sure to have the appropriate tools to make it ultra dark. Blackout curtains are very useful for this endeavor.
Take a look at our Blackout Curtains to make your room as dark as possible. You’ll be happy to know these curtains also reduce noise and help regulate the temperature of your room.
Prepare yourself by dimming the lights
One way you can use lights to your advantage is by dimming the lights as the evening unfolds. Lowering the brightness helps our bodies transition into a rest state. Low temperature or warm lights like orange light can help the body to relax, which helps in creating the right mindset for sleeping.
Keep screens out of your bedroom
As we’ve explained in previous sections, artificial blue light emitted from the screens of gadgets can significantly disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Keeping these gadgets away from your bedroom can help you create a more sleep-ready environment by preventing tech use before bed.
Avoid screens before bedtime
A good way of minimizing the impact that light has on our sleeping routines is by avoiding the use of a screen up to two hours before bedtime. By doing so, your body has enough time to readapt and regulate your sleep-wake cycles.
Use a light blocker
If you are unable to avoid using screens, there is a possible alternative. You can use light blocking filters on your devices to block blue light.
Go night mode
Another option to reduce blue light exposure from the screen of your cell phone or tablet is by using the night mode feature of different apps and web pages, or reducing the brightness of the screen.
Invest in good bedding supplies
A great way to focus on sleep hygiene is by improving your bed with the best bedding supplies, to make sure you make the most out of the time you sleep.
Let’s take a look at some of the products you can use to turn your bed into a paradise of comfort and rest.
A quality sheet set is fundamental for a good night’s sleep, so take a look at our Iconic Microfiber Collection Sheet Set for a set that is silky soft and as comfortable as it gets. This set will keep you warm on cold nights and hot on cold nights.
For a sheet set that will keep you warm with its ultra soft cotton, go for our 100% Organic Flannel Cotton Sheet Set. This set is famously breathable and will keep you fresh throughout the night.
Treat your head to the best pillows available with our Premium Bed Pillows. This set of pillows are ideal for any sleeping position and will help you keep your neck aligned for proper posture.
Use our Premium Body Pillow to keep your whole body supported in any sleeping position you choose. It will maximize your comfort levels and keep you steady throughout the night.
Lastly, a firm mattress is indispensable to the quality of our sleep, so take a look at our Microplush Mattress Pad. This pad is made with quilted squares that act as miniature pillows, providing added comfort throughout the night.
Is it better to go full darkness for sleeping?
Since we are focusing on how light affects sleep, and we’ve clearly established how light exposure can affect our sleeping routines, we think it is also appropriate to ask ourselves if the total absence of light is the best way to go when it comes to sleeping.
Some studies show that it is indeed better to sleep in full darkness since this way you avoid potential distractions and disruptions to sleep. Sleeping with lights on may interfere with your sleep cycles and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
One thing you should know is that closing your eyes is not enough to block light if you are in an lighted environment since your eyelids can’t block enough light.
If that isn’t enough to convince you of why you should sleep in full darkness, take a look at the following advantages that this practice can bring to your life.
Avoid eye strains
Sleeping with lights on, even mild lighting can cause eye strains, which can lead to feelings of tiredness and discomfort in the eyes. Avoid this possibility by going full dark in your bedroom.
Sleeping with lights on can affect the circadian regulation of your metabolism, which can increase the risk of gaining weight even when sleep wasn’t disrupted in any way.
So now you know, full darkness is the best way to achieve a good night’s sleep that can also impact your quality of life.
Light exposure can have a substantial effect on the quality of your sleep because it is a key element in regulating your sleep-wake cycles. Light exposure can be detrimental to your sleeping routine if you are overexposed to it, especially in the evening when your body should be getting ready to sleep.
We hope this blog has helped you to understand the effects that bright light exposure can have on the quality of your sleep and how to use the tips provided for managing those effects.
Don’t forget to check on the following products to transform your bedroom into the best sleeping environment you can hope for:
Use our Blackout Curtains to make your room as dark as possible. These curtains block up to 99% of light and UV rays.
Get a sheet set that will keep you extremely comfortable in a luxurious manner with our Iconic Microfiber Collection Sheet Set.
For a set that is breathable and warm, go for our 100% Organic Flannel Cotton Sheet Set.
Use our Premium Bed Pillows to keep your neck and head in proper posture for better sleep hygiene while providing the maximum level of comfort.
Keep your body in check with our Premium Body Pillow. This body pillow will provide support in any sleeping position you choose.
Add an extra layer of firmness to your mattress with our Microplush Mattress Pad.