As summer is nearly upon us and the days are getting longer you may start wondering how light affects sleep. Indeed, many of us find that we sleep less in summer and getting up can be somewhat easier. You may even find that getting off to the land of nod in the summer months is harder than in the depths of winter. This is because light affects sleep directly. Light is important for feelings of wakefulness and alertness. Whilst darkness is crucial for feelings of sleepiness and therefore sleep itself. In fact, light can play havoc with our sleep cycles. We would go as far as saying excessive light has become a modern day malady.
Why Is Darkness So Important For Sleep
The reason darkness is so important for sleep is thanks to a little hormone called melatonin. This hormone is affectionately know as the 'sleep hormone'. Melatonin increases in correlation to darkness. This clever little hormone then sends messages to the brain to prepare for rest. Therefore instructing the muscles of the body to relax, body temperature to drop and drowsiness to increase. Indeed, melatonin is low during the day and remains that way until the evening. However, modern day living can and does interrupt this cycle. This is thanks to artificial lighting and the dreaded blue light emitted from phones and other such technologies.
Up until the advent of electricity in the 20thcentury the human body clock was more or less aligned with the natural rhythms of the day. However, that has all changed dramatically and now a lack of darkness has become a scourge on society. But fear not, there are plenty of things you can put in place to make getting some shut eye a little bit easier. Here, we will discuss just a few practices you might want to put in place.
Invest In Black Out Curtains - Our window coverings can hugely impact our sleep. Although floaty, sheer curtains look pretty you should invest in black out curtains or blinds. Even just a slither of light can have a huge impact.
Wear An Eye Mask – If your window coverings aren't cutting the mustard you could try an eye mask. Whilst they can be difficult to get used to initially they can be extremely effective.
Step Away From Technology – Our addiction to technology and smart phones is wreaking havoc on our sleep. This is thanks to the blue light they emit. To maximise your sleep, give yourself a break from technology at least an hour before bed.
Use Low Lighting On The Evening – Let's be honest, most of us use artificial lighting in the evening. However, even our lighting at home can have an impact on our sleep. Whilst we don't advocate getting the candles out, using dimmer lighting can be of real benefit. So turn off all those overhead lights and keep your lighting subtle.