The Effect of Sunlight on Your Sleep
Anyone who's ever had difficulty napping during the day or sleeping at night with a street light shining through their window understands the struggle. There's a reason why people often prefer to sleep in pitch darkness. Light plays a major role in people's ability to fall and stay asleep, and the reason for this dates far back into the days of our ancestors.
Light Influences Hormones
The power of light is stronger than you might think. It deeply influences your body's processes and shuts off the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you tired. That's why when you wake up before your alarm sounds and the sun is shining directly into your bedroom, it can be challenging to fall back asleep. Your eyes have light indicators that signal to the brain that it's time to get up and start the day - even if you've only had a few hours of sleep and you're exhausted.
It's not just natural sunlight that affects your sleep. Light from lamps, laptops and smartphones can all disrupt your sleep and wake schedule, and it's why it's typically recommended that you limit your use of these electronics right before bed. Any kind of light - both artificial and natural - can deeply impact your sleeping schedule.
Some Light is Good for Your Sleep
However, light isn't all bad. In fact, natural sunlight can be quite beneficial for your body, as it gives you a boost of vitamin D production and also lifts your moods and reduces the feeling of stress. Ultimately, the more relaxed you feel, the easier it is to sleep.
Therefore, exposing yourself to light can be helpful for your sleeping patterns - as long as it's at the right time of the day. Get outside as much as possible on sunny days and sit by the window if you must stay indoors.
Relief from Light-Related Insomnia
Sometimes, it's impossible to stick to a regular sleeping routine. Maybe you have an especially busy week and need to stay at the office longer and get there earlier. You might also have to work the night shift, depending on what line of work you're in. While it's natural to feel sleepy on the job when you're forced to change your routine, it's unacceptable for your performance to suffer - or worse, for you to drift off while you're at work.
"Wear an eye mask to shield your eyes from any light."
Fortunately, there are a few hacks to trick your body into a new sleep schedule, and one of the most effective ways is by making your sleeping area extra cozy. Use plush blankets and a thick comforter to feel comfortable, and keep the room as dark as possible. Invest in sun-blocking curtains or shades, and wear an eye mask to shield your eyes from any light that manages to peek in. Also, it's likely that your neighbors or other members of your household will be awake while you're trying to sleep. Even when they try their hardest not to make any noise, it's inevitable that you'll hear something that will keep you up. Use a noise cancelling device and wear ear plugs to further block out any sounds that could interfere with your sleep.
If you're not a night shift worker and you just want to hit the reset button on your sleep schedule, try to get a little adventurous. Camping is actually a great activity for readjusting your body clock so it's more in line with your natural circadian rhythm. Spend a weekend outdoors with your loved ones this summer, and you'll be back to normal in no time.