It’s a daily routine: after a long day, you change into something comfy like pajamas, turn out the light, then crawl into bed. Why do you switch off the light? Is it because you need it off for sleep? Is it to save electricity?
Do we sleep in the darkness purely because we have been trained to or are there other reasons? Let’s examine why light may be a factor in you falling asleep and staying asleep.
Long before we created our own electricity, humans would sleep when the sun fell and awaken when it rose. It seems to be ingrained into us to sleep at night. The same applies to much of the animal kingdom. Those that are nocturnal have developed specially through evolution.
Look how difficult people find sleeping when they work a night shift. And what do they do? They darken their bedrooms and invest in a sleep mask.
It would seem Mother Nature makes us crave darkness for our slumber.
In our wonderful bodies, we have the pineal gland. By itself, we don’t pay much attention to it. Heck, many of us haven’t heard of it. But it produces a vital hormone called melatonin. No doubt you’ve seen melatonin pills in your local store’s vitamins and supplements aisle. People pop them when they have jet lag and can’t sleep in a new time zone. This naturally occurring chemical promotes safe and fulfilling sleep. Without it, we become grumpy, can’t sleep through the night, and just feel meh. During the day – in the light – the pineal gland is inactive. It ‘wakes up’ in the night. Production of this hormone is disturbed by light.
Sleep is important to physical and mental health. Poor sleep makes us feel foggy, tired, lethargic, grumpy, and more susceptible to illness. Our concentration is diminished, as is our strength and stamina. Sleeping better in darkness promotes the creation of melatonin which, in turn, helps our bodies to align and balance themselves out.
Simply turning off the lights is not all you need to do to ensure a good sleep. What happens during the day, in the crucial hours before bed, and in the bedroom all make a big difference.
If you simply can’t darken your bedroom completely, a soft, breathable sleep mask could take care of that and provide the sleep you can only (day)dream about. You’ll finally have the darkness you crave – and need.
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