Humans are deeply connected to sunlight. The sun is the source of life and for millennia, dictated the rhythms of our lives. Once artificial light arrived on the scene, things began to change. Suddenly humans could make their days last longer by keeping the lights on throughout the night. They could navigate the world long after the sun went down.
For better or worse, as new inventions brought light into our homes, and different types of light became commonplace, our natural rhythms were interrupted more frequently. Human physiology is connected to the cycle of the day. As the sun goes down and the world becomes dark, the body releases a chemical called melatonin. This natural hormone is crucial to our circadian rhythm, meaning that it encourages us to fall asleep, and stay asleep.
These days, we expose ourselves to more artificial light than ever before, especially with the proliferation of screens in our lives. And screens have a unique effect on us and our ability to get, and it is definitely something we should be aware of. Not all colours of light have the same negative effect. Blue wavelengths, the kind emitted by screens and energy-efficient lighting like LED lights, can be useful during the day. They have been found to boost attention and heighten reaction times, even enhance a person’s mood. However, they are most disruptive at night. The more exposure we have to this type of light in the evening and at night, the worse we are likely to sleep.
We all know that not getting enough rest that is deep and of high quality does wonders for us the following day. A proper sleep results in being more clear minded, able to make decisions, happier and more patient and so on. Not having a proper sleep, on the other hand, deeply and negatively affects our lives. Studies are even beginning to suspect a causal link between a lack of sleep and very serious conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
The good news is that we are able to control the amount of blue wavelengths that reach us, and when. As mentioned, during the day blue wavelengths can positively affect our lives and increase our productivity. In the evenings however, it is a good idea to think about limiting these lights. Some of these habits may be tough to break, so consider setting a schedule that reduces blue light exposure over time so that new habits form.
Here are some tips to help:
- Put energy efficient bulbs on a dimmer so that you can limit their use in the evenings
- If you have a lamp near your bed, consider a different bulb that uses a different type of light
- Power down electronics at least one hour before bed. Over time, you can increase this to two hours before you fall asleep.
- Remove the TV from your room and set a rule that no computers or phones are allowed on the bed
- Make sure your bed and bedroom is a sleep paradise. Keep it dark, quiet and relaxing so that you condition yourself to fall sleep quickly and sleep deeply throughout the night
Again, start small. Once you find that you are achieving better quality sleep, you are going to be amazed at the improvements in your life.