Have you ever thought about how light affects your sleep? Sure if your room is bright it makes it hard to sleep, but what about your light exposure throughout the day?
Light is probably the most ignored nutrient. It is just there at a flick of a switch or walking outdoors so we don’t give it much thought.
Here is how light can affect your sleep and health.
– In the morning sunlight of 10,000 lux (brightness measurement) resets your circadian rhythm for the day so your cells and body systems all work at the appropriate times.
– Morning light also starts the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy. It also is used in the synthesis of melatonin at night so you can sleep. So you see your sleep starts in the morning.
– Your skin needs to be exposed to UVB rays in order to create vitamin D (which is actually a hormone). There is a vitamin D deficiency or not optimal level moving through the population as more people load up on sunscreen and spend all day indoors. 75% of people are thought to be deficient in Vitamin D.
– Red light and Near Infared light from the sun helps to dilate blood vessels to lower blood pressure.
– Americans spend almost 90% of their day indoors where light is suboptimal. Even in a bright room, it may register 200-300 lux. A cloudy day still will register 10,000lux or more.
– Blue light (ha I bet you thought I would talk about this first) is being over consumed. Your computer screens, phones, tablets, LED room and compact flourescent lighting all emit sharp spikes in the blue spectrum even if to your eye it doesn’t. Sunlight emits a lot of blue light during the day but it is balanced with red light. Think of blue light like a Twinkie. A little bit is ok balanced with fruits and veggies, but eating them all the time is going to add some pounds to you.
So you spend all day indoors out of the sun, sitting in front of a computer and then go home and when it is supposed to be dark and your body winding down all the lights are on in your house. Can you see how this can confuse your body?
You probably are saying well I fall asleep just fine. And that is true because there are 2 different drives going on with sleep.
Your sleep drive which is the longer you are up, the more tired you get and then you have your circadian rhythm. Your rhythm is running in the background and ignoring or overriding it constantly is going to set you up for other lifestyle diseases.
Did you know the night shift is classified as a Level 2 carcinogen? This is due to circadian disruption.
So how is your light health affecting you?
Do you want to learn more about environmental factors that can impact your sleep? Check out the Build Better Sleep Blueprint