Sleeping is of paramount importance to our physical and mental well-being. It has a huge influence on our daily lives affecting our thoughts, moods and productivity. So getting the right kind of rest is something that we should all strive for. There are numerous things that can help in this regard including the creation of daily routines and habits as well as lifestyle changes. It has also been found that complete darkness can greatly improve our chances of getting a good night’ rest and is actually vital to our ongoing health.
Why is sleeping in complete darkness so important?
Findings suggest that sleeping in darkness produces melatonin. This naturally occurring hormone is a powerful antioxidant that is useful for fighting cancer as well as other serious ailments such as Alzheimer’s and Fibromyalgia. It also regulates our blood-pressure, body temperature, glucose levels and sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is usually produced at night but decreases in production during the day which is why proper sleep is required to retain acceptable levels.
Unfortunately, illuminated computer screens, clock alarms and other appliances can suppress the production of melatonin by more than 50% in some cases. To make matters worse, modern devices emit blue light which can be especially disruptive to melatonin levels. These can also affect the biological clock known as the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus. This is a group of cells which respond to light signals transmitted from the optic nerves in our eyes, which in turn cause us to wake up.
Other processes are also triggered including body temperature and the creation of cortisol. Cortisol is important for maintain energy levels during the day but its production remains low at night. So increased production after daylight hours has the potential to disrupt sleep and can actually cause increased weight as well as other problems relating to insulin resistance.
How to create complete darkness for sleep
There are a number of methods you can use to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. To begin with dim your bedroom lights well before bedtime. Your body will pick up on the fact that you’ve lowered the lighting and will start to send signals to produce melatonin. As a result you’ll start to get sleepy.
Be sure to remove or turn off any devices that emit blue light. So put away iPads, smart-phones and the like so that the right kinds of light signals are being sent to your brain. Your digital clock is probably not going to be of much help either. However, if you’re worried about getting up in the morning, consider covering it with something so that you’re able block out the light but will also be able to hear the alarm in the morning.
Use window treatments that block out the light. Black out roller blinds are especially useful in this regard and can be a great way of dimming street lights and other distractions that have the potential to interrupt your sleep. Eye masks are also very effective, particularly if you share a bedroom with a partner who has to get up before you.