How does sunlight affect sleep?
Did you know that sunlight can help you sleep better?
Our internal body clock responds to the cycle of the sun and natural light levels. We are attuned to live within the circadian rhythm that cycles from night to day and winter to summer.
It’s our body clock that triggers the sleep/wake hormones that give our body its cues.
In the morning, sunlight triggers the adrenals to produce cortisol, the hormone that causes us to wake up and go into action.
At night, the sleep inducing hormone melatonin signals sleep and is produced as darkness sets in, with peak amounts at 10pm in total darkness.
How does sunlight affect sleep? It is the choices we make during the day that make such a difference to how well we sleep at night.
For the best night’s sleep start your day with sunlight.
1. Start your day with sunlight – we are designed to be out in nature and under the sun in daylight hours so get out there as early and as often as you can.
2. Get outdoors and into the sunlight – this will trigger the production of serotonin, the ‘feel good’ mood enhancing hormone.
Sunlight during the day helps us to energise and ‘wake-up’ with cortisol as well as ‘feel good’ with serotonin. It is serotonin that converts at night to melatonin so ramping up the serotonin levels in the day ensures that we produce the sleep inducing hormone melatonin to help us with sleep at night.
3. Try moving your desk to the window – even a little extra natural light will help.
4. Consider installing full spectrum natural light bulbs too.
5. As well as maximising your exposure to natural light during the day, it is also important to minimise exposure to artificial blue light in the evening.
How Blue Light Affects Sleep
The main sources of artificial blue light that you need to be aware of and minimise your exposure to are from screens – mobile phones, tablets, computers, energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights.
Cutting out all blue light screen time an hour before bed will make the most immediate impact on improving sleep.
We can still use all the new technologies during the day – but have an awareness of when to stop.
Blue Light Blockers:
If you do need to work late on occasion these options may help limit the impact on your sleep:
- Blue light blocker apps such as f.lux that eliminate blue light
- Blue-light blocking glasses that will help keep your circadian rhythm on track.
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