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Celebrating World Sleep – How to use light to best advantage to encourage better sleep routines

 

Our body’s sleep system is very sensitive and depends upon the 24-hour day cycle of day and night. Our brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark and less when it’s light. Melatonin is essentially our ‘sleepy hormone’. Therefore to ensure that we feel alert in the day and sleepy at night, we need to use light to our advantage.

Make sure that you are close to a window when you are working. Research shows that employees that had a window had lower levels of melatonin at 8am, and therefore had more energy in the morning when they needed to work and had higher levels of melatonin at 10pm when they needed to sleep. Additionally, lower melatonin levels at 10pm was associated with depressive symptoms and lower quality sleep. If you are unable to work near a window that emits natural light, try and get out of your working space and into natural light frequently throughout the day.

Additionally, using electronic devices actually suppresses melatonin production. Electronic devices give off ‘blue-light’ and research shows that exposure to blue-light suppresses melatonin twice as much as other types of light. This means that people who expose themselves to technology, particularly closer to bedtime, are more likely to have poor quality sleep. This can be reversed, however, research shows that blue-light blocking lenses has a significantly beneficial effect on sleep quality. Many smart phones now have an option to reduce screen brightness which can be automatically set to be activated daily. If you do not feel that you have the opportunity to put your tech down two hours before bedtime, think about investing in a (cheap) pair of blue-light protective glasses.

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