It’s a well-established fact that we sleep better in a dark environment. Having light sources of any type in our bedroom can disrupt our sleep patterns. And, even using an eye mask is not going to be 100 percent effective for most people.
Did you know that your skin actually has receptors that can pick up light? These photo receptors are similar to those found in your retina, so your skin can literally see. Researchers at Brown University discovered that skin cells also make rhodopsin, a light-sensitive chemical found in the retina. If there’s light in your bedroom, your body is picking it up and sending messages to your brain and organs that can interfere with your sleep.
Sleeping in total darkness is so significant that nighttime light has been dubbed “light pollution.” Light pollution refers to any adverse effects from artificial light. Humans (and most other organisms for that matter) evolved to adjust to predictable light and dark phases to set their circadian clocks. Once artificial light became the societal norm, it effectively changed the length of our days. Today, the average person’s sleep has decreased from around nine hours to about seven, and it hasn’t been a pretty transition either.
One of the most devastating impacts of this light pollution is the confirmed effect on melatonin production. Studies show that exposure to room light during usual hours of sleep suppresses melatonin levels by more than 50 percent. That’s not good!
Melatonin has been proven to:
- Improve immune system function
- Normalize blood pressure
- Reduce the proliferation of cancer cells and tumor growth (including leukemia)
- Enhance DNA protection and free radical scavenging
- Decrease risk of osteoporosis
- Decrease risk of plaques in the brain (like those seen with Alzheimer’s disease)
- Alleviate migraines and other pain
- Improve thyroid function
- Improve insulin sensitivity and weight reduction
Not getting enough sleep, and not sleeping in darkness, will age you faster and suck away your vitality. So, with all the new-found data to back it up, the best solution for improving your sleep is to get your room blacked out.
Night Light Fight
Purchase some of the now popular “blackout” curtains that are available from most retailers. And, get any other sources of non-stop light out of your room too. Do these two things tonight, and I promise you that you’ll thank me for it tomorrow. Sleep experts suggest that your room be so dark that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. I grew up with nightlights, so this was a really big step for me as well.
Speaking of nightlights, researchers from the Scheie Eye Institute at Pennsylvania University discovered that even a simple nightlight could cause myopia in children and lead to significant vision problems later in life. In the study, 479 children under the age of two were put into one of three categories: Sleeps in a) total darkness b) with a nightlight on or c) with a room light on. The results were shocking.
The researchers found that 10 percent of children who slept in the dark ended up being short-sighted, while 34 percent of the children who slept with a nightlight and 55 percent of the children who slept in a lightened room developed shortsightedness. Though the study didn’t account for every variable possible, it’s definitely something to consider. This isn’t just important for us, as adults, it’s also important if you have children and grandchildren as well.
Take action to turn your bedroom into a nice, cozy sleep cave. Personally, this is the one thing that instantly had a beneficial impact on my sleep. I blacked out my bedroom and have been getting the best sleep of my life ever since.
Get It Blacked Out Power Tip # 1
You don’t just want to block out the light from outside, you want to eliminate the troublesome light inside your bedroom too. One of the biggest culprits is that angry alarm clock staring at you. The alarm clocks with the white or blue digits are more disruptive than ones with red digits. You can start by simply covering the alarm clock up as one tactic. But personally, I have a digital alarm clock made by Sony that has a dimmer adjustment that allows me to turn the clock light all the way off. Cover the clock up or get a better clock, either way you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
Get It Blacked Out Power Tip # 2
Once you have your blackout curtains, you may find that there is still some light that sneaks in over the top. You can simply roll up a blanket or towel to cover up that area. Dr. Eric Mercola recommends that, even during the midday sun, your room will be pitch black when you go in there. There shouldn’t be any light sneaking in there unless you want it to. Getting rid of the light pollution in your bedroom is a huge key to getting the most peaceful and rejuvenating sleep possible