What is stopping you from sleeping?
Many of us are beyond tired, why?
For most people who do not have a sleeping disorder, most likely the reasons underlying this state of sleep deficiency can seem hard to pinpoint.
5 Key factors have powerfully changed how much and how well we sleep:
1. Constant electric light as well as LED light.
2. Regularized Temperature
5. Shift Work
Over the next few blogs I will be talking about each and everyone one of the above and how they are affecting our sleep and in turn our health.
IS MODERN LIGHT KILLING OUR SLEEP?
Let's all blame Thomas Edison for eventing the first power-generating station to support an electrified society!
The planet has a natural cycle of night and day and Thomas kind of put an ending to that.
Before Edison, and before the gas and oil lamps, the setting sun would take with it this full stream of daylight from our eyes, sensed by our 24 hour clock within the brain.
The loss of daylight informs our brain that nighttime is now in session, time to release the brake pedal and unleash the vast quantities that signal to our brains and bodies that darkness has arrived and it is time for sleep.
Appropriately scheduled tiredness, followed by sleep, would normally occur several hours after dusk accross our human collective.
Electric light put an end to this natural order of things.
Artificial light, even the modest strength, or lux, will fool your brain into believing the sun has not yet set. The brake on melatonin, which should otherwise have been released with the timing of dusk, remains forcefully applied within your brain under duress of electrical light.
This delays our sleep time which should occur between 8 and 10pm.
So Helder you telling me, my little bedside lamp is going to keep me awake?
Even a hint of dim light 8 to 10 lux, has been shown to delay the release of nighttime melatonin in humans. Normally a bedside light pumps out anywhere from 20 to 80 lux.
Your living room light could be pumping out 200 lux, this can have a 50% impact on melatonin release.
If things could get any worse they did! THE LED!
Blue LED lights may save you money but they could be shortening your life!
The light receptors in the eye that communicate "daytime" to the brain are most sensitive to short-wavelength light within the blue spectrum-the exact sweet spot where blue LEDs are most powerful.
As a consequence evening blue light has twice the harmful impact on nighttime melatonin suppression than warm, yellow light from old incandescent bulbs, even when their lux intensities are matched.
These LED lights power your Laptop - mobile phone - ipad - TV's, etc.
A study showed using an ipad 2 hours before bed blocked melatonin by 23%.
A more recent study compared healthy adults on a 2 week period tightly controlled lab environment. The 2 weeks period was split in half, containing 2 different experimental arms that everyone passed through:
1. 5 nights of reading a book on an iPad, no other uses such as e-mail or internet, were allowed.
2. 5 nights of reading a printed paper book for several hours before bed, with 2 conditions randomized in terms of which the participants experienced as first or second.
Compared to reading a printed book, reading on an iPad suppressed release by over 50% at night. Indeed, Ipad reading delayed the rise of melatonin by up to 3 hours, relative to the natural rise in these same individuals when reading a printed book.
Reading on the iPad also changed the full quality of sleep, Individuals lost significant amounts of REM sleep, they felt less rested and sleepier throughout the day and they suffered a 90 minute lag in their evening rising melatonin levels for several days after iPad use stopped. Almost like a digital hangover effect.
Using LED devices at night impacts our natural sleep rhythms, the quality of our sleep, and how alert we feel during the day.
How many of you and more importantly how many of your children use such devices in the evening?!
This devices can be amazing in many ways but it damaging yours and your children's sleep, the sleep that young, developing brains so desperately need in order to flourish.
So what can we do?
We can start by creating lowered, dim light in the rooms where you spend your evening hours. Avoid powerful overhead lights. Mood lighting is the order of the night.
Wear blue blocking glasses, they are yellow tinted glasses to wear indoors in the afternoon and evening to help filter out the most harmful blue light that suppresses melatonin.
Maintaining complete darkness throughout the night is also very important, the easiest way to fix this is blackout curtains.
Finally you can install software on your computers, phones and tablets, that gradually de-saturate the harmful blue LED light as evening progresses.