Magnificent Seven: Sleep Right – In the Dark

When you are sleeping you should make sure your room is as dark as possible.  I know that this might be a tough thing for those of you that rely on the night light to scare away the bogeyman.  Then there are those that have illuminated alarm clocks large enough to be seen blocks away that cast a bluish-green hue across your bedroom.  If you want to sleep better and feel more energized when you wake up then make some changes with your room lighting.

Research indicates that our bodies do better when exposed to light at the appropriate times and darkness at the appropriate times.  Maintaining this proper exposure helps to maintain our biological clocks or circadian rhythm.  Exposure to light at the wrong time of day has been linked to a number of maladies.  For example, research performed at the University of Pennsylvania showed that children under the age of 2 that slept with a night light were more likely to develop nearsightedness later in life.

Some researchers propose that chronic melatonin disruption – such as sleeping with a street light shining in your window – may contribute to hormone related cancers such as breast cancer.  Now the jury is still out, but it seems that there is enough information available to warrant sleeping in a dark room.

Here are some tips for shutting out the lights.

  • Dim the houselights in the evening to prime the pituitary for melatonin production.  Avoid bright lights in the home at night and avoid excessive light exposure with television and computers before bed.
  • Purchase room darkening shades that will not allow outside lights from entering your room.
  • Unplug bright alarm clocks or “glow-in-the-dark” clocks, radios, etc.
  • Don’t get in the habit of using night lights.  If you need to get up at night to use the restroom use a small flashlight and avoid turning on all the lights.
  • Use a sleep mask to cover your eyes and keep ambient light reaching your eyes to a minimum.

It will take some time to restore disrupted cycles so don’t get frustrated and don’t give up too early.

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