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Light can disrupt your sleep

6 March 2011 No Comment

When one stays up late under bright lights, it will interrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, because light tricks your brain into remaining in daylight mode.

Less well-known is that the light from computer screens and iPads shining directly into your eyes at close range is especially troublesome.

The light from these devices is at the blue end of the spectrum, which scientists believe is particularly disruptive to circadian rhythms.

Blue light, although common during the day, doesn’t occur naturally during the evening.

Similarly, light shining in your eyes while you sleep, even very small amounts coming from a lighted clock, makes your brain think it is morning and emerge out of deep sleep.

Darkness triggers production of the hormone melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleepiness and the onset of sleep. Light prevents this release or shuts it off.

A recent study published in Cancer Causes & Control, found that the countries generating the most light at night have the highest incidence of breast cancer.

Studies at the Light Research Centre at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have found that the use of computers, lighted readers, and TVs at close range is tied to a higher incidence of sleeplessness.

Light is also bad for hearts, which need deep sleep to recharge. Dim the lights and turn off all lighted screens at least an hour before bed.

Do a light room check: Are there streetlights outside your windows?

Use blackout curtains or shades and make sure they fit the windows tightly so no light seeps in around the edge.

Charge all laptops, phones, cameras, and other devices in another room.

Use an alarm clock without a lighted dial, or turn it to face the wall.

Keep a flashlight next to your bed and use it whenever you have to get up to use the bathroom or let the dog out.

If you must use a laptop, turn down the screen brightness as low as you can tolerate and prop the laptop as far away from you as your typing arms will reach.

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