How lighting affects our sleeping habits

Today, Americans are more sleepless than ever. Studies show that a growing number of individuals are consistently lacking sleep due to a variety of factors such as high stress levels, restless bed partners, medication, technology and even lighting. We recently watched an interview with David K. Randall, author of “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep,” who discusses the problem and ways to improve our sleep habits.

Randall pointed to technology and lighting sources as major players in the sleepless phenomenon affecting so many people.

  • We live in a technology-driven society, causing our brains to constantly be “on” – We are always wired. From our workday to entertainment selection, technology is consistently a key element. This 24-7 stimulation makes it difficult for our brains to settle down when it is time for sleep.
  • We are exposed to endless light sources – While lighting is important, as with anything, too much of a good thing can have its consequences. Our constant exposure to computers, TVs, mobile devices – in addition to regular light sources – tricks our brain into thinking we should still be awake in the evening. Because technology, and inevitably light, are often integral parts of our everyday reality, it may seem difficult to cut out, or even reduce, our exposure to these sources.
  • Turn off bright lights, TVs, phone devices and computers one hour before going to sleep – Randall suggests that making an effort to trim down on our exposure to light and technology before bed can help our brains settle down and prepare for sleep mode.
  • Limit caffeine before bedtime – Randall also suggests taking steps to limit how much caffeine we consume, especially before bed, to help our bodies fall asleep.
  • Track sleep and identify patterns – With the benefit of sleep technology, people are able to track their sleep during the night. Consistently tracking sleep can help individuals identify sleep patterns related to a variety of factors such as exposure to technology, eating habits, caffeine and medications.

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