Although it may seem like common sense to sleep in a dark room to get a better night’s sleep, many people don’t. Look around your bedroom—how many sources of light do you have? You might be surprised to find that lots of things are leaking a little light into the darkness you think you’re surrounding yourself with when you flick the light switch off at bedtime.
Light colored curtains can let in glare from outside streetlights. Electronic equipment in “sleep mode” can give off a lot of light. Discarded laptops can cast blue and green glows. Clock radios send light into the darkness of your room too. Operating lights on power bars also add red light. Pretty soon, your room is not nearly as dark as you think it is.
This can be a problem when it comes to the quality of your sleep. Your body depends on cycles of light and darkness to function properly. Just like you need to be exposed to light during the day (preferably a little sunlight and not just artificial light), your body needs darkness at night to sleep. Darkness triggers the release of melatonin—a hormone that regulates sleep.
When the sun goes down each day, your body begins to actively produce melatonin, and releases it into your blood. Normally, this starts to happen around 9:00 p.m. At this point, melatonin levels start to rise quickly and you are not as alert. Your body starts to crave sleep. Once you’re asleep, your melatonin levels stay elevated all through the night until daylight signals that it’s time to initiate a drop in melatonin production. Allowing light into your bedroom at night can disrupt this whole process.
One other reason why you want to keep your room dark when you’re trying to sleep is because darkness also signals it’s time for your muscles to stop moving. Anyone who has had trouble sleeping can attest to the fact that it’s often because leg and arm muscles remain active despite the fact that you want to relax.
Get rid of all those light sources in your bedroom and you should see an immediate improvement in the quality of your sleep.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Studholme, K.M., et al, “Brief light stimulation during the mouse nocturnal activity phase simultaneously induces a decline in core temperature and locomotor activity followed by EEG-determined sleep,” Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. March 2013; 304(6): R459-71.