Posts Tagged ‘insomnia’

Living Room with Dimmed Lights

tip: relaxing under soft light before bed may make your sleep more well-rested

We wake up to the sun. We go to work under bright fluorescents. We come home and turn the lights on. In fact, the only time we turn the lights off is to fall asleep every night. But if you’re one of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who have sleep problems, one trick to a better rest might just be found in the dark…

Yes–keeping the lights down may help improve your health. Researchers at Harvard University have found that around-the-clock light may be detrimental to our natural biorhythm. This is particularly the case in the hours before bed, when many of us keep our house lights at their brightest.

According the research, lights left on during sleep suppressed melatonin by 50 percent in subjects. However, when the 116 people in the study were given eight hours of dim lighting before bed, melatonin was produced 90 minutes more per day. In other words, lead author, Joshua Gooley, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, explains: “Our study shows that this exposure to indoor light has a strong suppressive effect on the hormone melatonin [which] could, in turn, have effects on sleep quality and the body’s ability to regulate body temperature, blood pressure and glucose levels.”

Implications from the study go beyond just to suggest a correlation between lighting and restfulness. Given that chronic light suppression of melatonin has been hypothesised to increase the risk of some types of cancer and that melatonin receptor genes have been linked to type 2 diabetes, the findings from this study provide plenty for future research to explore.

In the meantime, light some candles and let yourself unwind for a better rest.