Almost everyone has some sort of artificial light present in the evening before bed. This may actually be a huge problem. Any sort of artificial light can cause problems with your ability to get enough rest. Televisions and nightlights are just a few ot name. More and more research is finding that all the artificial lighting in the modern world can cause problems. Here is what you need to know about the ways artificial light during sleep affects your personal health.
Artificial Light Exposure Linked to Worse Sleep
In historical times, people tended to wake up with the dawn and go to bed shortly after the sunset. Artificial lighting has greatly reduced this practice, and now we have people who stay up all night and sleep during the day. However, being exposed to bright light after the sun goes down can actually make it difficult to sleep. People who spend a lot of time in bright light in the evenings struggle to fall asleep. If they have artificial lighting present while they sleep, such as a night light or a television, they may not properly go into the deeper phases of sleep required for proper rest. The effect of bright street lights outside of residential homes can be so harmful that the American Medical Association has called for changes to the way we light our cities.
The underlying cause for the bad sleep associated with artificial light is the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a natural biological process characterized by hormones that rise and fall in a regular 24 hour. This rhythm is heavily regulated by exposure to light. When a human sees sunlight, the body tends to increase levels of hormones associated with wakefulness, energy, and activity.
In the darkness, melatonin and other sleep-inducing hormones are induced. When a human spends time in artificial lighting, this cycle gets thrown out of order. The end result is sleep disorders where a person feels sleepy during the day yet cannot fall asleep at night. Artificial light on a blue wavelength tends to be worse because sunlight is mostly made up of blue lighting, but even dim red lights can cause some issues.
Harms Your Health
Having your sleep cycle affected by artificial light does more than just leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Almost all of the hormones that govern the body’s functions are linked to light exposure. According to a recent study from the Cancer Epidemiology journal, those who do shift work at night have higher risks of cancer, obesity, and heart disease. This occurs due to an altered circadian rhythm caused by exposure to bright lights at night.
The circadian rhythm also regulates breathing, so many people getting stem cell therapy for COPD or using inhalers for asthma often find that they need more treatment at night. When artificial lighting disrupts circadian rhythms, people with these respiratory disorders may also struggle to breathe during the day.
What You Can Do?
At night time, you should try your best to keep artificial light out of the bedroom. Never sleep with the television on or fall asleep while staring at your phone. Those who live in areas with bright street lights may benefit from light blocking curtains. Select a digital clock with a red light instead of a green one.
If the idea of avoiding all screens and artificial lighting at night seems too impossible, you might want to try a few of the new technologies designed to improve sleep quality. One study from the University of Houston, found that wearing glasses that block blue wavelengths of light in the hours before bed can help people to fall asleep quicker and get better sleep.
There are also apps you can download on your computer or phone that reduce the amount of blue light used at night.
Other Alternatives To Minimize Artificial Light During Sleep
As we continue to increase exposure to artificial lights, humans are suffering from more and more sleep disorders. All of this disordered sleeping can greatly impair health and make it difficult for people to function during the day. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to completely avoid exposure to artificial light. Those who are concerned about their health may need to seek out new technologies and alternative sleeping methods to reduce their exposure to artificial light before sleeping.