Don’t let the light bulb ruin your slumber. The secret to a good night’s snooze could be as simple as brushing your teeth in the dark. “What’s the last thing that most of us do before we go to bed? We stand in a massively lit bathroom, looking into the mirror cleaning our teeth,” says Oxford University neuroscientist Russell Foster. “It’s the worst thing we can possibly do before we go to sleep.”
The science of sleep
It turns out that artificial light, including the typical bathroom variety, disturbs our biological clock and inhibits sleep-boosting neurons. These annoyingly bright lights could be waking your body up just as you should be preparing for slumber. Other artificial lights such as television, electronic devices, smart phones, and computer screens can also send your body into wide awake mode.
According to Foster, humans have evolved to respond to natural light, telling our biological clock whether to wake up or wind down. But artificial light also has an effect on our bodies, inhibiting sleep-promoting neurons in the brain and the nightly release of the hormone melatonin, which aids slumber. Bright lights actually activate neurons that boost alertness. When sleep neurons are disrupted, you don’t get a good snooze and you can wake up feeling overwhelmingly tired.
Why sleep is important
Rest is important for overall health, and lack of sleep has been linked to numerous health problems. Research shows that not catching enough z’s, or getting poor-quality rest, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, poor memory, increased impulsiveness, anxiety, stress, depression, impaired work, poor judgment, irritability, mental disorders and an increased risk of accidents.
The list goes on, but we feel we painted the big picture. Sleep deprivation is not something you want to mess with, especially when it’s voluntarily induced. At the end of the day, remember to dim your lights, avoid caffeine, refrain from glowing electronic devices, and brush your teeth in the dark. The secret is to listen to your body at night. It will make it so much easier to relax and enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber.