Categories: Sleep Science

How Different Lighting Effects Your Brain Chemistry and Sleep

Human beings are built to respond to the natural light and dark cycle of the day. It makes sense that we would have evolved this way. After all, unlike cats, our eyes aren’t equipped to see very well in the dark. So, we had to do our hunting in the daytime and, the earlier we started looking for food, the more food we’d find before the day was over. As a consequence, our brains are more alert during daytime hours. As the sun sets, we start to slow down. Even if you consider yourself a night person, your productivity still wanes with the loss of daylight. Of course, nowadays we are surrounded by artificial light. It makes sense that this light might wreak some havoc on our sleep/wake patterns.

Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are our built-in 24-hour biological cycles—processes that control when our bodies engage in certain regulatory biological activities. These rhythms are independent of light. They occur even in complete 24-hour darkness, but that doesn’t mean they are impervious to disruption. The light/dark cycle regulates circadian rhythms, keeping them carefully tuned. In excessive light or darkness, the cycle can lose its synchronicity, causing all sorts of sleep-related problems. For example, melatonin, a sleep chemical we will discuss in greater detail in a moment, peaks in the evening, plateaus during the night, and drops off in the morning. Cortisol, a stress hormone, peaks in the morning and tapers off during the day. If these chemicals begin to rise and fall out of order (or in overlapping order) you may experience insomnia or excessive sleepiness. Any kind of artificial light at bedtime can affect these chemicals.

Turn Off Your Computer and Cell Phone Well Before Bedtime

Unfortunately, a series of new studies have shown that exposure to the light from self-luminous displays like computer screens, tablets, televisions, and cell phones, can dramatically reduce sleep quantity and quality. This is because the light these devices emit mimics sunlight closely enough to suppress melatonin. If your brain thinks it’s daytime, you’re less likely to feel tired and less likely to sleep deeply.

Melatonin’s Other Effects

In addition to regulating your sleep/wake cycle, melatonin can also lower blood pressure, regulate mood, and regulate glucose metabolism. It follows then, that an irregular melatonin release schedule can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, mood disorders, and heart disease. I’ll tell you, after learning all of this, turning off the lights at night never seemed more important. And, as always, if turning off the lights isn’t enough, you can reliably improve the quality of your sleep with a natural latex mattress.

(Visited 167 times, 1 visits today)
Share
    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

    Recent Posts

    PlushBeds Memorial Day 2020 Mattress Sale

    Our PlushBeds Memorial Day Mattress Sale is now live! If you’ve been considering an organic or natural latex mattress, wait no longer, as prices for… Read More

    2 weeks ago

    Why It’s Important to Sleep on an Antimicrobial and Hypoallergenic Mattress

    We all want to make changes in our homes and lives to improve health and wellness. One thing many people… Read More

    3 weeks ago

    How to Avoid Health-Harming Chemicals in Your Mattress

    Did you know that many of the mattresses on the market today have chemicals in them? These chemicals can cause… Read More

    1 month ago

    Does Better Sleep Mean Better Grades?

    MIT professors conducted a study to see if there was a relationship between the amount of sleep students get and… Read More

    1 month ago

    Mattress Shopping: In-Store vs. Online

    The world of shopping for mattresses has evolved over the years. Once upon a time, you drove to a mattress… Read More

    1 month ago

    Sleep Tips For Healthcare Workers

    Healthcare workers and caregivers are at the front and center of all kinds of emergencies, large and small. They are… Read More

    2 months ago