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Sleep Series Part 5: Exposure to Light

Most of us, at one time or another, have fallen sleep with the lights or the television on.

This can be problematic as light (and darkness) plays a significant role in regulating our biological clocks and therefore our sleep. Light activates the pineal gland in our brain causing the suppression of melatonin.

At bedtime, we want melatonin to be produced as it sends a signal to the brain that it is time for rest; it is often referred to as the "sleep hormone" or the "darkness hormone." In essence, more light (from the sun, a light fixture, or those pesky electronic devices) results in less melatonin produced and this can lead to disrupted sleep and/or sleep that lacks depth.

Tips

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:

*At night, keep your sleep environment dark. Light-blocking curtains, drapes, or an eye mask can help.

*If you wake during the night, limit your light exposure as much as possible by using a low illumination night light.

*For shift workers who need to sleep during the day, wear dark glasses to block out the sunlight on the way home from work.

*Limit television, computer, and phone use before bedtime, especially in the bedroom.