The Influence of Light on Your Sleep Patterns
Are you the type of person to jump out of bed in a great mood every morning when your alarm goes off or are you the person who crawls out of bed after hitting the snooze button a few times? If you are the latter then the lighting in your room could be causing problems for your sleep patterns.
A white paper by Royal Philips, the global leader in lighting, has compiled insights from 10 years of ongoing research that has revealed that the amount of quality light you are exposed to every day may have a lot to do with whether you are a morning person or a night owl.
Lighting, whether natural or artificial, affects all life on our planet. In humans, it plays a crucial role in regulating our circadian rhythm, also known as our body clock. The studies have shown our circadian rhythms are not always in tune with our alarm clock and that this can cause issues for our sleep patterns as well as how we are when we wake up.
This means that we are naturally inclined to sleep and wake 30 minutes later each day. If this slower rhythm is not regulated by the end of the week our sleep and wake cycle could be off by more than 2 hours – which means we would be hitting snooze more regularly.
How to regulate your circadian rhythm:
Studies have shown that alarm clocks can help to manage the time lag created by our naturally slower circadian rhythm but they have also found that the specific quality of light hitting our photoreceptors not only regulates our internal body clock but can reset it every day too. For thousands of years, we used to use the rising and setting sun to regulate our body clock without even realizing we were doing so.
Today, high intensity artificial blue-rich light is also capable of resetting our body clock because of its resemblance to natural morning light. As we all have a natural tendency to sleep in, our modern lifestyle means we may lean towards getting little sleep in the week and laying in over weekends but while this can work for a little while it will catch up with us and throw our circadian rhythm out of whack.
“The message from nature is clear,” says Light and Sleep Scientist at Philips Research, Luc Schlangen. “Our bodies have evolved a kind of steering wheel, constantly adjusting the sleep wake cycle, driven by light, allowing us to adapt to the differing daylight lengths during the seasons.
We can help regulate our body clock through lighting by providing light injections at appropriate times, for instance through brighter office lighting on Monday mornings.”
The exposure to blue-rich morning light will help speed up our circadian rhythm to wake us up earlier and improve our daily function over a period of time.
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