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Light is important for sleep!

Are you struggling to get a good night’s rest? Well, the right amount of light before bed may be just what you need to help catch more ZZZs. 

Have you heard those countless reports that tell us to avoid screen time right before bed? The ones that say not to use your mobile phone or iPad before you drift off? Yet we all can’t help ourselves. We love our technology and we bring it everywhere we go, including into the sheets at night, even though we’re repeatedly told it’s a bad habit.

Have you ever wondered why? It’s because light has a significant impact on how we sleep. Light causes an instinctual trigger on the human body and mind, stimulating the state of wakefulness. So while we are lying there with our faces aglow, checking our Facebook feed or touching up our last Instagram photo before nodding off, we are actually sabotaging our ability to obtain a fulfilling and healthy night’s sleep.

Light’s role in our sleep patterns

We, as mammals, are not nocturnal. We have evolved to be active during the day and to rest at night. As a result, exposure to light activates alertness and increases energy levels because, in the natural world, light occurs during the daytime. The problem is, with technology, we now have access to artificial light, and its exposure late into the evening can cause significant difficulties in triggering our bodies to reach the correct sleep phase.

Darkness and melatonin

Darkness is an essential condition for sleep. When the eyes detect a reducing amount of light at the end of the day, the brain produces a hormone known as Melatonin which signals the body that it is time to rest. This initiates the body’s physiological preparations for sleep, causing muscles to relax, body temperature to drop and the active internal functions to shut down, ready for maximum relaxation and repair throughout the night. In normal conditions, after the sun sets and darkness falls, Melatonin levels naturally rise into the evening and throughout the night, before subsiding after the sun rises again and during the day.

Technology is impacting how our bodies prepare for sleep

However, artificial sources of light exposure after sundown inhibits the natural production of Melatonin, which can corrupt this internal biological mechanism (often referred to as a ‘sleep clock’), thus interfering with both the quantity and quality of sleep you receive.

 

CPAP - Light therapy

5 ways to improve your sleep with light 

Ultimately, managing your light exposure in your home and especially in your bedroom at night time is essential in creating a conducive sleeping environment. For example:

  1. light1.gifEnsure your curtains are fully drawn and thick enough to block unwanted light such as street lighting or early morning rays.
  2. light2.gifGradually decrease the lights more and more as you get closes to bed, to maximise your body’s preparation for sleep and production of Melatonin.
  3. light3.gifCommit to a regular and consistent ‘lights out’ time. This will help restore your body's sleep clock.
  4. light4.gifIf you must use your phone after you've gone to bed, such as a night light to stumble to the bathroom or check on the children, set it to ‘blue light filter’ or ‘night mode’ mode which softens your exposure.
  5. light5.gifThere are also products available, such as the university developed  Re-Timer product, which can help to adjust the light your eyes absorb in preparation for sleep. More information about this below 

How the Re-Timer can help you


If you are experiencing problems sleeping, you may wish to consider the Re-Timer device. Based on 25 years of science from world renowned sleep psychologists at Flinders University in Australia, Re-Timer can help you to re-adjust your sleep rhythm so you can improve your sleep. Wearing Re-Timer for 30 minutes a day is a natural way to get your body ready for sleep. It's great for shift workers or if you need help avoiding jet lag and adjusting to a new time zone when traveling overseas!

For more information and to see if this product is right for you, visit the Light Therapy section in our shop.

  MORE INFO

Re-Timer device

 

References:

[1] The Huffington Post. “Australia, We Have A Sleep Deprivation Problem.” 7 February, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/02/07/australia-we-have-a-sleep-deprivation-problem/