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’ Highly-Acclaimed Mattresses Earn More Than 80 Awards

    PlushBeds Awarded Top Mattress in Vast Array of Categories PlushBeds is happy to present a plentiful collection of awards that… Read More

    4 days ago

    PlushBeds President’s Day 2020 Mattress Sale

    Our PlushBeds President's 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

    7 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time for a New Mattress

    Getting a good night’s sleep is more important in today’s high-energy, high-demand world than ever before. Unfortunately, you can’t get… Read More

    2 weeks ago

    5 Tips to Stop Eating at Night

    Many individuals find they tend to eat late at night, often despite not being hungry. And, rather than nibbling on heart-healthy… Read More

    2 weeks ago

    Advantages of Sleeping with a Wool Comforter This Winter

    Winter is here. For many people, that brings about a change of comforters and bedding. This winter, instead of going… Read More

    3 weeks ago

    Are There Health Benefits to Using an Adjustable Bed Frame?

    Sleep is an essential component of wellness, but can elude many individuals struggling with chronic health disorders. An adjustable bed… Read More

    3 weeks ago