Sleep is a fundamental ingredient for good health and optimal physical functioning. If you struggle to sleep your daily light intake could be the problem.
Did you know that light plays a major role in your sleep cycle?
The brain interprets the presence of light or lack of it as a sign of when to be awake and when to sleep. Your circadian rhythm is designed around daylight, or the sun and it’s akin to your internal clock. It governs naturally occurring processes that happen during each 24 hour cycle like sleep, digestion and metabolism. Your digestion and internal organs develop a routine for processing the food that you eat, use fat, process inflammation and repair or regenerate cells. All of these occur more efficiently when we sleep at a similar time every night and wake up as the sun rises, with the light.
However, the bright lights and screens of modern life can throw the body’s natural rhythm out of whack.
Blue Light Disrupts Sleep
An overload of blue light from devices stimulates our nervous system, making it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. Laptops, televisions and phones are major culprits – especially before we go to bed – as our bodies would normally be winding down due to the lack of sunlight. But the bright blue confuses the body, signaling that it’s time to be awake even if we’re physically tired.
Blue Light Disrupts Stress and Sleep Hormones
Hormones that regulate the sleep cycle are also directly affected by the blue light from devices.
Cortisol, a steroid hormone, tends to be highest in the morning, helping us to wake up and keeps us going. It tends to be lowest when we’re in our deepest sleep, typically around 3-4AM. Bright artificial light stimulates cortisol production further confusing our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and keeping cortisol levels elevated.
Melatonin, on the other hand, helps us fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s the counterpart to cortisol which our body starts producing in the early evening when we’re winding down and getting ready for sleep. Bright light, especially bright blue light from devices has been shown to disrupt melatonin production.
The evidence is clear – to get a better night’s sleep, limit blue light at night:
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light is less likely to throw out the body’s natural circadian rhythm
- Avoid looking at bright screens 2-3 hours before bed
- Wear blue-blocking glasses or install apps that filter the blue/green wavelength at night
- Expose yourself to bright light during the day to boost your ability to sleep at night. This will also elevate your mood and alertness during the day.
Most of us do not get nearly enough light during the day. Our sedentary lifestyles in front of our devices for work and play, surrounded by bright artificial light makes it even harder for us to get to sleep easily.
Infrared therapy can help us counter the effects of this.
Infrared saunas isolate the wavelengths of red and near-infrared radiation (NIR) light to provide the same benefits as full spectrum sunlight without the UV rays, excess heat or the risks of overexposure to the sun.
Unlike blue light, red light does not act as a stimulant. Its low color temperature has a soothing effect on the body and it’s the most conducive wavelength to help keep you relaxed ready for a good night’s sleep. When your circadian rhythm is regulated, you feel more relaxed at night time and fall asleep faster and stay awake for longer.
Red and NIR light helps boost the body’s cellular energy production capability and cuts down on oxidative stress. This, in turn, speeds up the healing process and reduces inflammation. Reducing pain and inflammation, and speeding up the healing process helps promote good sleep.
Infrared therapy is fast becoming a popular and effective way to treat many health conditions, including chronic pain, stress and sleep difficulties. And it’s a natural alternative without the harmful side effects that can come from taking sleep medication.
Interested to see what infrared therapy can do for you?
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