Afraid of the dark? We sure were as kids. We were convinced ghouls, goblins, and ghosts prowled around after the lights went out. That’s why we always would switch on a night light before slipping off to sleep.
But these days, we have a whole different reason to fear the dark. It’s a valid fear that has nothing to do with monsters stalking us while we slumber.
But it is about something that goes bump in the night. And that’s us hitting the floor when we trip and fall in the dark. Which, let’s face it, could be a disaster at our age.
Some folks leave lights on and plug nightlights in all over the place. But there’s a DARK side to being surrounded by all those lights while we try to sleep.
Your brain, your body, and even your cells crave total darkness. In fact, they need it to fully activate the restoration and rejuvenation processes that happen only during sleep.
Now new research reveals what happens when you don’t get that all-important darkness at night. And to put it simply, your health suffers.
But you don’t have to risk a fall and injury to get restorative rest. I’ve got the secret to getting a good night’s sleep with just the right amount of light to keep you on your feet.
Don’t be afraid of the dark it could SAVE your life
You likely already know that the human body uses light and dark as cues to activate specific processes. But the new study shows that even slight changes to those levels of exposure could lead to significant differences.
Falling asleep surrounded by a moderate amount of light… like from a hallway light left or bedside lamp… causes the sympathetic nervous system to remain switched “on.” That’s your “daytime mode,” which has a faster heart rate and provides higher levels of alertness when you need it.
But you don’t need it at night when you sleep. That’s when your parasympathetic nervous system is supposed to take over. During sleep, it slows everything down, allowing you to truly rest, recover, detoxify, heal, and more.
Extra light prevents that mode from taking over. That led to two critical differences in volunteers who slept in a room with moderate light levels for just one night.
First, their poor hearts had more strain put on them. They had a higher heart rate, and the heart had to work with more force.
And second, they had more problems with glucose regulation and more significant signs of insulin resistance. And this puts them at a higher risk of metabolic dysfunction and diabetes.
How to sleep with the right light at night
The moderate light levels used on the volunteers in this sleep study aren’t uncommon. Just the opposite, in fact.
The team behind the research estimates that about 40 percent of adults sleep with similar moderate lighting, either from a bedside lamp, a television, or outside lights slipping into the room. Even some night lights are too bright for good quality sleep.
But if you have reasons to be concerned that you might fall when getting up in the night, you don’t have to put yourself at risk and force yourself to fumble around in the dark. There’s another option.
Don’t leave a bedside lamp, TV, or other bright light on while you sleep. Get an amber or orange nightlight, instead. They won’t activate your brain in the same way. So they allow you to sleep without altering your nervous system.
Ideally, you should still plug them in close to the floor. So they won’t be right in your eyesight when you’re trying to sleep.
And if you have light pollution coming in from your window, it might be time to invest in a decent set of blackout shades.
In fact, there are several simple things you can do to make your bedroom more conducive to good sleep overall. In my earlier report, where I explain the link between poor sleep and dementia, I outline how to turn your bedroom into a “sleep cave.”
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