Don't be afraid of the dark

To get to sleep, our bodies need darkness. Light – or the lack of it – regulates our sleep patterns and winds our internal biological clock. The presence of light cues our bodies to rise and shine, while the lack of light lulls us to sleep. When darkness falls, the retina of the eye sends signals to the brain to release the sleep-initiating hormone melatonin. The bright light that helps keep you awake during the day can disturb your sleep at night. When planning your bedroom's lighting layout, allow for the option of darkness:

  • Hang curtains, drapes, or retractable blinds to block out street light or the glow of a full moon.
  • Turn off all lights in the hallway or bathroom. If you must get out of bed to visit the bathroom, light your path with a low-illumination nightlight that won't interrupt your sleepy state.
  • Stash an eye mask in the drawer of your bedside table for especially bright nights.
  • Stow away out of sight your recharging cell phone, your blinking laptop, your alarm clock, and any other gadget that glows or emits blue LED light. When light is low, the eye becomes especially sensitive to colours at the blue end of the spectrum. For people sensitive to this light, it can affect their sleep.

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