Illuminating Matters Surrounding Sleep

We live in a world of standby lights, 5K screens and high-resolution tablets. 

Throughout the day, we are under the influence of a blend of daylight and sparkling bright screens. Our retinas and grey matter are constantly enriched with the latest news and offers. The range and variety of touch screens continue to expand around us. The options where the good old bells and whistles are replaced with a one-touch solutions. It is some of the developments we have to live with during these modern times.

Large, well-lit billboards and televised advertisements inside public transportation systems add another scoop the amount of info to ‘Buy Me!”. In an awakened state, the influx of all hues of the rainbow becomes almost second nature. It becomes the new normal of how the digital world literally flashes in front of us, indoors and outdoors, and leaves a memory of those things that captivate us.

When sitting in front of a screen all day, eye strains are a common discomfort. While we adapt fairly well to the flow of artificial lights between rising and heading into bed, many of us need that illuminated break. Headaches and feelings of eye discomforts are common ailments we encounter when staring too long at a screen. 

We all know that we need sunlight to get our daily dose of Vitamin D. There aren’t many food sources giving us ample Vitamin D to live a thriving life. We depend on letting those sunrays protrude from our skin for that natural D shot. Having a decent dose of sunlight is also what aligns our biological clock, also known as our circadian circle.

Everyone lives and breathes when respecting these biological rhythms. This internal clock is running an on almost 24-hour cycle. A plethora of genes control the mechanisms of our biological clock; these are essential drivers for bodily functions such as body temperature, metabolism and digestion. But when it comes to light, our circadian circle also works closely with how much light we sense.

And with sense, I do mean sense

Some thrive when they rise early; others despise the feeling of being in bed by 9 pm, and where some can suffice with 5-6 hours’ sleep. Our circadian rhythm does this for us and signals when daylight fades away, making way for moonlight.

Our body is rigged with external sensors. These sensors are sensitive to light. And connected to the rising and setting of the sun, so do bodily hormones that support our sleep and awakened state. The main one is melatonin. When bedtime arrives, our melatonin levels are rising, signalling our body is slumber time. And seeing light is not what our body wants to see, feel, or experience at this stage.

It has become human nature to relax in bed with your mobile, watching the latest news, or read a chapter on your tablet. Just like during the day, our brain defines this artificial light as ‘light’. And this is something melatonin does not like.

For our body, there is no distinction between daylight, LED lights, candlelight, a stand-by light, or the light of your digital alarm – it is all light. And when one needs to get that much-needed rest, it is the last thing the body wants to ‘see’. As a result, melatonin is suppressed; we tend not to get the right amount of sleep, and our body clock is throwing off balance. 

It is particularly this artificial light (or blue light) that causes our melatonin levels to spiral into a vicious circle.  We simply may not see the effects at first but, like with many other matters, everything works on a continuum. The effect, or effects, light has on quality sleep is not. On another day, we may wake up feeling groggy and not knowing the reason why. We had a relaxing evening, dropped our cortisol levels in time; gave our body ample time to digest our dinner. And still, our sleep quality diminishes. 

It’s human nature that we dig into the medications, sleeping tablets or that additional nightcap.

But is it necessary? 

It is no secret that the world population’s sleep quality is on a decline. Research is showing that more and more modern-day diseases are linked to inadequate quality sleep. And the issues are on the rise, including depression and diabetes. Many of these reports link to causes related to the amount and time we are under the influence of any artificial light sources.

And not those sources we see and feel when we are in an eyes-wide-open state.

Sleep assists in weight loss, feeling energetic and giving your body that essential break to repair, reset, organize, and get ready for the next day. Adding artificial lights before and during the night may well be a cause of not seeing the results.

Want to get back to control the dark side of your circadian rhythm?

I have some illuminating solutions

I’m so good at sleeping that I can do it with my eyes closed. | Anonymous

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