Light is bad at nighttime

By • Published: September 20th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Do you ever have a problem falling asleep at night? How about waking up in the morning when your alarm clock trills and buzzes nonstop?

If so, your circadian rhythm may be off. Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock. It tells the pineal (PIN-ee-uhl) gland in the brain when to produce a sleep hormone called melatonin, which plays a crucial role in when we fall asleep and wake up.

When darkness falls, your brain produces more melatonin, which helps you fall asleep at night.

But now, more people are exposed to excessive lights at night from electronics like computers, phones and portable tablets. This has prompted the American Medical Association to adopt a new policy alerting people that exposure to excessive light at night can disrupt sleep, especially in children and teenagers.

Health care experts say electronics produce a lot of blue light, which can interrupt the production of melatonin in the brain and cause people to have problems sleeping.

To avoid counting sheep until dawn and tossing and turning instead of sleeping, experts suggest keeping a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time every night.

Sleeping in a completely dark room is an ideal environment for catching some Z’s. But if a child needs a nightlight, experts suggest using a dim red light.

Sleeping struggles aren’t the only problems with too much light at night, either. The A-M-A also reports that glare from too many artificial lights can cause unsafe driving conditions. Excessive exposure to blue light at night could also play a role in causing breast cancer.

So, when you’re settling down for the night, it may be best to curl up next to a boring old book rather than your smartphone. Or better yet, restrict your use of blue-light emitting devices a couple hours before bedtime.

That might make the sandman appear in your room faster.