The light turns out to play a major role in regulating your sleep hormones. Our natural circadian rhythm is controlled by light exposure. If you wake up early or stay awake late at night, you might disrupt your sleep cycle. This can cause serious health consequences such as obesity and depression.
We spend about half our lives asleep, so it’s important to get enough rest. Even though we don’t always realize it, our body clock uses light exposure to tell time. In addition to helping us adjust to the new day, light also helps regulate our sleep hormones. When we expose ourselves to bright lights, melatonin levels rise and cortisol decreases. It is important to understand which hormones affect sleep and how to increase sleeping hormones.
Bright light during the daytime can negatively impact your sleep patterns. Learn how to control the amount of light entering your room with these simple tips.
The Benefits Of A Good Night's Rest
It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is essential for sleep hormones and good health. But did you know that when you have more than eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, you actually feel better? Studies show that people who are well-rested tend to be healthier and happier. Here are some other benefits of a good night’s rest:
1. You'll Be Happier
When you're tired, it’s hard to concentrate on anything but fall asleep. Fortunately, this lack of mental focus doesn't last long once you start drifting off into dreamland. According to researchers from Washington State University, people who got seven to nine hours of shut-eye reported being significantly less stressed after waking up than those who slept just four hours.
2. You Won't Get Sick As Often
If you want to avoid catching colds, flu, and even seasonal allergies, try sleeping more. Researchers from New York University found that people who slept fewer than five hours per night were twice as likely to catch a cold as those who snoozed six to eight hours nightly. They also had higher rates of chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes.
3. You'll Lose Weight Easily
Not only does a solid night's rest help you avoid weight gain, it may also make losing excess pounds easier. A study published in the journal Obesity found that women who consistently slept around eight hours each night lost an average of 13 pounds over a two-year period compared to those who averaged less than seven hours of slumber each week. Sleep hormones and weight loss or weight gain are interlinked.
4. You'll Feel Better
A recent study shows that if you need a boost to start your day feeling refreshed, try going to bed earlier. Participants who went to bed at 11 pm reported feeling more energetic than their counterparts who stayed up past midnight.
5. You'll Live Longer
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests that people who get between six and eight hours of sleep every night live longer. Researchers analyzed data on nearly 4,000 adults over age 50 and found that those who got between six and eight hours each night lived an average of 3.6 years longer than those who slept fewer than five or more than 10 hours each night.
Our bodies have adapted to living within 24-hour cycles because they provide us with essential benefits for sleep hormones. For example, the rhythm allows us to follow the rising and setting of the sun and adjust our behavior accordingly. Some of these changes include:
Unfortunately, modern lifestyles disrupt these natural patterns. We spend too much time indoors, working long hours, and using devices late into the evening. As a result, we often don't experience enough daylight during the day. And since our technology uses artificial light, we miss out on the natural release of melatonin at night. This lack of light causes our bodies to think it’s still daytime and sends them into “sleep mode.”
It’s not just our body clock that gets thrown off by this disruption. Research shows that when there isn’t enough light in our environment, our brain doesn’t develop as well. That means children who grow up in environments with limited sunlight will likely perform worse on school tests.
What Can You Do About It?
If you want to improve your health, make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight each day (preferably early in the morning). Sunlight helps regulate the production of melatonin, so if you’re living in a place where it’s hard to go outside, supplementing with a melatonin supplement may help.
You should also try to avoid screens before bedtime. Studies show that watching TV, playing games, or browsing social media right before going to sleep can interfere with your normal sleeping pattern. Instead, turn off all electronics one hour before bedtime and practice good sleep hygiene.
Blue light from smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs and other electronic devices can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. According to recent studies, blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin by disrupting the circadian rhythm. While some experts believe that blue light may actually promote sleepiness rather than helping you get sleepy, others argue that it interferes with the restorative process. If you do decide to limit your usage of blue light sources, be sure to keep your phone away from your bedside table.
There are several ways to reduce how much blue light hits your retinas. First, set your device down an arm's length away from your face while reading and typing. Second, consider buying an app designed to filter blue light. Third, install filters on your computer monitor. The American Optometric Association recommends wearing glasses with amber-tinted lenses to protect your eyes from blue light.
Light has been shown to influence many aspects of our daily lives, including mood and circadian rhythms. However, most research focuses on its effects on our ability to see and navigate. When we look towards the sun or use a flashlight, our eyes send signals to our brains that allow them to work together to create a picture of what we’re seeing.
The same goes for our internal clocks. In fact, scientists estimate that 90% of our biological functions are influenced by our circadian rhythms. These cycles are controlled by the timing of light exposure, which affects our hormone levels. One such hormone is melatonin. Melatonin levels rise in response to darkness and fall in response to light. While low levels of melatonin are linked to sleep disorders like insomnia, high levels can be harmful. This is why most people find it difficult to sleep with a full moon overhead — the bright light reflects off of the lunar surface and keeps us awake.
Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the brain which controls our sleep cycles. Research has shown that melatonin improves alertness and reduces insomnia. It works by balancing hormones, regulating circadian rhythms, and helping regulate metabolism.
Since melatonin levels vary throughout the day, it is recommended to take one pill about 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
To sum up, light affects the quality of sleep and makes it harder to wake up feeling refreshed. On the flip side, sleep deprivation also impacts your ability to function well during the day. So if you want to improve the way you feel after waking up, consider reducing the amount of time spent indoors before bedtime. Try going outside and playing around instead.