How Light Affects Sleep

blue light and sleep

I have a simple question for you…

What do you do before falling asleep?

Some of you will say you read a book. Or listen to music. But I bet the majority will say that they either watch some Netflix or play around on their phone. Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard how this is bad for your sleep quality. And I’m sure you’ve all ignored that fact. I know this because I have as well.

But maybe it would benefit all of us with not-so-good pre-sleep habits to learn about the science behind light and sleep. It is not a coincidence that since the beginning of time (give me some poetic freedom here) humans have been awake during the day and asleep at night. Now I know we all love a good nap in the middle of the day, but let’s just consider the general trend here.

It may not be shocking that light stimulates alertness. But how? Well, light has a direct affect on our circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the internal process that regulates our sleep cycle. When our retinas take in light, various chemicals and proteins in our body are altered. More specifically, our body temperatures rise as well as the levels of a hormone called cortisol. The rising cortisol levels essentially tell our body that it is time to be awake.

Similarly, in the absence of light, the hormone melatonin rises and our body temperature lowers. This alerts our body’s rhythm that the time for sleep is approaching. The whole body relaxes and drowsiness becomes apparent. Anyone else nearly fall asleep in movie theatres? This is why.

So apart from turning off the lights when going to bed, what else can you do to invite a better night’s sleep?

TURN OFF THE SCREENS OF COURSE! I know everyone is sick of hearing this (I am too). But let’s understand why screen light is even more detrimental to sleep than regular light. Light emitted from our laptops and phones is called blue light. Blue light has been found to have a direct effect on the release of melatonin in the body. The longer you look at your screens at night, the more delayed the release of melatonin becomes. Even if your bedroom is dark as can be, staring at your phone will prevent your body from recognizing your circadian rhythm’s signals. 

If you’re like me and have trouble sleeping right when you shut the lights off, try listening to a podcast or audio book for 10-20 minutes. Music can be overstimulating, but voiceovers from these mediums are more conducive to sleep. This will avoid over-exposure to blue light while inviting the darkness to transmit the needed sleep signals to your body. Also, if you prefer to have some light when you sleep, think about getting a red night light. Red light has been found least disruptive to the body’s sleep system.

So, if you want to get the most out of your Emma Mattress, cut down on light before bed. 

Sleep happy!


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