Light at night…how does it affect your sleep?

Have you heard the warnings of using your phone and computer before you go to bed? Yes, it’s true we are losing precious sleep time because of the light emitted by our computers and phones. If you’re not ready to ditch the habit of texting before bed, you’ll be happy to know that there are things you can do to limit your exposure to the type of light that affects your sleep.

Photo: Nguyen

First, you should know how artificial light affects your sleep. Night time exposure to blue and white light disrupts our body’s circadian rhythm, altering the biological clock that controls our sleep-wake cycle. While we are smart human beings with the ability to decipher from our watches that it’s time for bed, our physiology is going off years and years of programming which doesn’t respond so well to our Timex. In other words, we may know it is 11:00pm cognitively, but our bodies read the blue light off our computer screens as if it is 9:00am. The blue light emitted by our phones and computer screens keep us alert and sends our bodies messages that result in reduced production of Melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep.

We know that blue light in the evening hours is disrupting our sleep, but let’s not give all of technology a bad rap. Technology is starting to play a role in improving our sleep habits too! So if you must send out that last email late at night, here are a few ways that you can merge your love or possibly addiction to technology with a peaceful night’s sleep.

F.lux and Twilight, which can be found in the google play store, are easy to use apps that change the color of your phone and computers display to adapt to the time of day. This means more blue light when you need to be awake and alert and softer, warmer tones during the evening.

Holi has developed the SleepCompanion, a light bulb that works in conjunction with an app for your smart phone. The SleepCompanion light bulb generates the right type of light when it’s needed. Think a gentle warm light to lull you to sleep and blues to help you wake. The specially designed lightbulb works with your smartphone App which analyzes your sleep patterns and provides personalized advice to improve your sleep.

Ideally, keeping electronic usage to a minimum after sundown is a great habit to facilitate better sleep and to put your “mind to rest.” You can also improve your sleep by keeping your room dark. Simple solutions include adding heavier, light blocking curtains and eliminating glow from clocks and other devices in your room.