What does your “before bed” ritual look like? Some people settle down with a nice book or catch up on their favorite show before turning in for the night. Maybe all you need is a glass of water or some warm milk and you’re ready to start making Zzz’s.
Well, believe it or not, a good night’s sleep has less to do with the hour before bedtime and more to do with the light you are exposed to throughout the day.
Something called your “circadian rhythm” dictates the best time for your body to be awake and asleep. According to Psychology Today, the circadian rhythm is “a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat—regulating many physiological processes.” Much of that rhythm can be attributed to the cycles of day and night, and the light you encounter during those times. When the sun starts to rise, you start to rise. During the middle of the day, you are up and active. In the evening, you begin to settle down and get sleepy. You can thank the natural light from the sun for making you feel that way.
Changing Rhythm with Light
However, over the course of centuries, humans’ circadian rhythms have gradually changed. With the introduction of artificial lights, we have changed the way our bodies feel during different parts of the day. With natural light, you start with large concentrations of blue light to wake you up, ease into less blue light throughout the afternoon, transition into reddish light by late afternoon or evening, and lay down to sleep when darkness hits.
With artificial light, that schedule is not always accurate. You might be feeling tired in the middle of the day if you’re under dim incandescent lights. Staying awake in front of the blue glow of a television could make it harder for you to sleep at the end of the day. Overall, messing with your circadian rhythm can be detrimental to your health, cause depression, obesity, diabetes, and more. Thankfully, technology through LED is coming back around to help correct these issues.
How LED Lighting Can Help
LED lighting has reached the point where it not only is the most energy efficient lighting on the market, but the most versatile too. LED lighting can come in an incredible array of colors and hues to match your preference and fit with your circadian rhythm. Brighter LED bulbs with bluish tints can be set up around your home or office to wake you up and keep you alert in the middle of the day, when you most naturally should be. Warm LED lights, which match your typical incandescent bulbs, can be used in your bedrooms or living rooms to properly simulate late afternoon or evening, helping you wind down at the end of the day.
What Else Can I Do?
There are other steps you can take, without using LED lighting, to more properly follow your circadian rhythm.
Try keeping your phone away from you and not watching television too close to getting into bed as the bright blueish lights from both can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Some smart phones also include a “blue light filter” in settings, so you can continue to use your phone late at night and not worry about negatively affecting your circadian rhythm. Any chance you get let natural lighting guide your patterns. Allow sunlight to wake you up (if you don’t need to wake up early), and start to settle for the day when the sky begins to turn dark.
With not only the help of LED lighting, but by making some basic changes in your life, you can begin to adjust your circadian rhythm back to normal. You’ll find yourself waking up refreshed, staying alert during the day, having less trouble falling asleep at night, and being less at risk for certain conditions and sleep disorders. When it comes to improving your health, don’t mess around; change your life for the better!