Darkness is essential to sleep, with the absence of light sending a critical signal to the body that it is time to rest. Light disrupts this process by delaying the release of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland. Often known as the “sleep hormone” or the “darkness hormone,” melatonin influences sleep by telling the brain it is time to hit the hay. In response, the body’s physiological preparations for sleep – muscle relaxation, feelings of drowsiness, decreased body temperature – are triggered. Melatonin level rise as darkness falls and continue to climb throughout the night. Peaking at approximately 3:00 a.m., melatonin levels then fall during early morning hours and remain low during much of the day. Evening light exposure inhibits this natural process, negatively impacting sleep.
In layman’s terms, too much light at the wrong time or insufficient darkness throughout the night can confuse and disrupt the body’s internal clock, which interferes with both the quantity and quality of sleep.
Tips to Reduce Light in Your Bedroom
Here are tips for ensuring better sleep during periods of prolonged daylight hours or when artificial light is creeping into your bedroom.
- Use window curtains and shades to block outside light, making sure window coverings are heavy enough to fully block light and well fitted to prevent slivers of street light or early morning sunlight from filtering in.
- Invest in an eye mask, which can provide a personal zone of darkness and keep your partner’s reading light at bay.
- Dim the lights in your room an hour before bed to avoid the sleep-disrupting effects of artificial light in your environment.
- Remove any digital devices, such as alarm clocks or blinking computer monitors, and night lights from your bedroom at night.
- Expose yourself to light early in the day to fall asleep more quickly at night by strengthening your sleep-wake cycles.
The best thing you can do to address light in your bedroom is to practice every day good sleep habits – the best sleep tips work all year long. Follow our blog for new tips every month and sleep better tonight and every night!