Active Seniors

Light and Sleep

Our bodies are amazingly complex structures that are always adapting to the surrounding environment. This is no different when we look into sleep and the relationship between sleep and light.

How does light affect our sleep?

Light helps us to regulate the normal rhythms in our body. When the sun is up, the retina in our eyes are stimulated and they send signals back to the brain that keep us alert and awake. As the sun goes down, the eyes receive less stimulation and the brain starts to signal the release of melatonin which is also known as the “sleep hormone”.

Why is Melatonin important?

Melatonin release is essential for a good nights sleep and unfortunately it can easily be disrupted. Anything that stimulates the retina will impair the release of melatonin. The most obvious of these is artificial light. However the greatest stimulation to the retina comes from what is known as “blue light”.

What is blue light and how can it affect my sleep?

Blue light is the light emitted by LED screens such as those found in televisions, computers and mobile phones. The exposure to blue light tricks the brain to believe that it is still daylight, and hence reduces the release of melatonin. For a good sleep, you should aim to control your exposure to artificial light within 1-2 hours of bed time. In particular try not to watch television, use a computer, or a mobile phone directly before bed time.

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