Light has a significant effect on your sleep pattern. Light pouring through your window early in the morning sends a natural signal to the brain that it's time to wake up, be alert, and start the day. Conversely, exposure to bright light at night can stimulate the same sensations, presenting a barrier to a good night's sleep. Therefore, light plays an integral role in easing your body in and out of refreshing rest.
The importance of darkness
Just as light is essential to wakefulness, darkness is important to sleep. Darkness sends signals to the brain that it's time to rest. These signals are triggered by melatonin, which is otherwise known as the "sleep hormone". This hormone encourages your body to relax, brings on feelings of drowsiness, and causes your body temperature to drop. The levels of this hormone will rise and fall naturally throughout the night, guiding the body from deep sleep into wakefulness in the morning.
Thus, exposure to bright light at the wrong time can have negative effects on the biological clock that regulates your sleep routine. Although in some cases it may not interfere with the quantity of your night's rest, it can certainly affect the quality.
How modern life affects the quality of our sleep
For hundreds of years, finding darkness at night wasn't a challenge. However, with the coming of electricity – and later televisions and smartphones – light posed a new challenge to the quality of our sleep. Today, new studies suggest that the bright blue light emitted from digital devices has a particularly negative effect on our sleep, especially as they're often the last thing we look at before we close our eyes.
Create the right lighting for a good night sleep
Of course, considering our modern lifestyles, suddenly plunging ourselves into darkness at bedtime is unsustainable. We often need activities to soothe ourselves before dropping off to sleep, like reading. This is why creating the right lighting environment in the bedroom is crucial to getting a good night's sleep. For instance, soft, warm bulbs in table lamps are the best lights to read by, as opposed to the harsh, intense white light generated by some reading lights. For instance, the warm glow produced by these Astro Table Lamps makes them good to read by before bedtime.
Equally, dimmer switches are useful for gradually adjusting the intensity of light before bedtime. Once it's time for lights out, a high-quality set of thick curtains or blinds will ensure your sleep isn't disturbed by streetlights or early morning sun in the summer. However, if you could do with a nightlight – either for a child's bedroom or so you can make your way to the bathroom in the night – we'd advise a red bulb. This is because studies have suggested that the wavelength of red light is less disruptive to sleep.
Lighting has a significant effect on the quality of our sleep. With greater awareness of the effect that light has on our bodies, you can design the lighting in your bedroom so you can get a good night's rest. Darkness is important, so easing your body into a darkened environment is essential to getting the sleep you need.
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