Sleeping is a complex process that is controlled by many factors. Key among these factors the quality of lighting. Man has evolved to adapt his sleeping patterns to natural light. As evening approaches, the mind is conditioned to slowdown to prepare body to sleep. Due to advancement in lighting technology, man is able to maintain longer hours of quality light. Bring lights in the bedroom before and during sleep “confuse” the mind inhibiting melatonin production and leading to poor sleeping patterns.
Most children are generally afraid of sleeping in darkness unless the parent is nearby. Most parents may not see any problem in lighting the child’s bedroom in order to help them to sleep. If this is allowed to continue for a long time, the child’s sleeping patterns and habits will be affects. In simple terms, the body would not be able to differentiate day or night.
Lighting the bedroom during sleep is also bad for adults. A study done at Ohio University among people who enjoyed brightness during sleep found that they have a higher than normal risk of developing depression. Light at night increases the risk of psychological problems by 30%.
Lighting: How it Affects Sleep
Sleeping is controlled by the sleep/wake cycle. This sleep/wake cycle is under the control of pineal gland which is located in the brain and produces the hormone melatonin. Lighting and darkness trigger production is melatonin. The hormone melatonin begins to be produced in the evening and peaks by midnight. In fact, the deepest and most relaxing sleep is experienced at midnight to 2am when it’s darkest. Lighting – natural or otherwise lowers the production of melatonin.
Another hormone that is important in the secretion of melatonin is N-acetyletransferase (AA-NAT). High levels of AA-NAT are associated with higher levels of melatonin. AA-NAT is protected from destruction by proteasomes by the pineal gland. Illuminating the bedroom during sleeps triggers proteasomes to destroy AA-NAT. The type of light in your bedroom during sleep therefore affects production of important hormones for sleep. Light produced by a T.V has similar the same effects on sleep as other types of lighting.
At night, the body should be exposed to minimum light. However, during the day the body should be exposed maximum lighting – preferable natural light from the sun. If this is done on a daily basis, cases of daytime sleepiness would be lowered. This is because melatonin secretion would be regulated — enhancing sleep.
Lighting Tips for the Bedroom
- If you work in dark place, then you should buy lightbox to maximize your exposure to light.
- Have blinds or curtains in the bedroom to ensure that minimum light gets in to the bedroom at night.
- Turn off the light in the bedroom at a specific time at night. Similarly, Illumination should be on at a specific time in the morning.
- Install low illumination light so as to minimize exposure to light when you wake at night.
Ideally, the bedroom should only have one or at most two sources of lighting. All other items that produce light and are not involved in sleep should be removed from the bedroom. These items include computers, TV’s and phones. In short, the body should be exposed to maximum light during the day and minimum light at night.