From an evolutionary perspective, the body has developed to be active during daylight and inactive when the sun goes down. In today’s 24/7 world, going to bed at sundown seems almost as impossible as making it through our daily meditation without a million and one interrupting thoughts!
In an earlier post, we enlightened our readers about the very real dangers of light pollution in our bedrooms- including depression and larger waistlines! While we might not be able to tuck in with the sun each day, we can make small changes to reduce light pollution in our bedrooms that can have a lasting impact on our sleep, health, and wellness.
How dark is your bedroom? For most of us, it depends on the night. From electronic usage to street lamps and partners who insist on staying up to read long after you’ve gone to bed, reducing light pollution must be an intentional decision if you want to reap the daily benefits of a good night’s rest. Here are a few of the most common causes of light pollution in the bedroom and what you can do about it:
Cell Phone: While powering your cell phone down at night completely may be an impossibility, you can utilize its advanced technology to create an improved sleeping environment. The iPhone offers a few sleep-friendly settings. Night shift mode combats the phone’s melatonin-zapping blue light by switching to a warmer-toned screen while the “Do Not Disturb” feature completely disables calls, email alerts, and those pesky Facebook notifications.
If you’re worried about being completely unplugged in the case of an emergency, you can modify your settings. You have the option to allow calls from certain contacts or to allow repeated calls from the same caller within a three-minute period. At the very least, position your phone face down to reduce unwanted light disruptions.
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Television, Laptop & Other Devices: In the evening, your body begins to produce melatonin to prepare you for sleep. Electronics interfere with this process confusing both your body and your mind. Instead of unrealistically banishing all modern devices, just plan to limit their use so that you can enjoy, at least, the last hour of wakefulness without disruptions to your body’s biological, shut down the process.
The biggest bedroom culprit tends to be the television. In an ideal world, your bedroom would be tv-free, but, if that’s unrealistic for you, consider establishing reasonable television boundaries. Instead of tuning in up until lights out, read a book, write in your gratitude journal, connect with your significant other, or meditate. Studies show that even if you can (or prefer to) fall asleep with the television on, your sleep throughout the night may still be affected by the lasting effects of that electronic, blue light. Cable box leaking light? A piece of carefully-placed, black electrical tape should do the trick without interfering with its sensor.
Street Lights: Even with the best sleep intentions, sometimes light pollution will be out of your control. While you can’t power down the street light outside your bedroom window or force your neighbor to uninstall his landscape lights, you can invest in light-blocking shades to ensure a quality night’s rest. Don’t have the cash to spend on curtains or blinds? In a pinch, use aluminum foil. (Apparently, its an old Alaskan secret!) To dispel any other light pollution sources, wear a sleep mask.
Now that you’ve designed a pitch black room, remember to always be mindful of your safety and surroundings. Be sure to keep a light source within arm’s length in case you do wake up at night. (You can use your iPhone’s flashlight to make your way safely to the bathroom, just don’t get sucked into scrolling your news feed while you fall back to sleep!)