Sleep Hygiene 101: Minimizing Light Exposure

Sleep hygiene is a cornerstone of life in sync. When it comes to optimizing performance and vitality, even ideal nutrition and fitness can’t make up for poor sleep.

Even if you’re getting enough sleep, it’s important to remember that quality is even more important than quantity. 5-6 hours of high-quality sleep is better than 8 hours of poor, interrupted sleep. (Make no mistake, though: you should be getting more than 5-6 hours of sleep per night on average.)

One of the easiest ways to improve sleep quality is to minimize light exposure during your entire sleep period. Studies definitively show that light has a greater effect on sleep quality than any other external factor, due to its dramatic influence on circadian rhythm, melatonin production, and sleep cycles.

How Light Exposure Decreases Sleep Quality

The brain interprets light as information about the time of day and regulates bodily processes accordingly. Our circadian rhythm is altered by the timing of light exposure (both natural and artificial). Artificial light before bedtime, early morning sunlight, and ambient light in our sleeping environment can all disrupt circadian rhythm if not mitigated by proper sleep hygiene practices.

Similarly, the production of melatonin (a critical hormone that facilitates sleep) is slowed or halted by light exposure. [1] Research demonstrates that these downstream effects of light exposure decrease sleep quality by interrupting transitions between sleep cycles. [2]

For a better night’s sleep, implement these simple practices for minimizing light exposure.

1. Remove LEDs 

LEDs (which emit short-wavelength blue light) have been shown to have the most significant impact on melatonin and circadian rhythm. [3] For this reason, it’s incredibly important to remove all LED lights from your bedroom (especially those that emit blue or white light). 

At the very least, cover LED light sources after sunset; this will keep your circadian rhythm aligned to a natural sunrise-sunset cycle. And, of course, stop using your phone or other blue-light-emitting devices at least one hour before bedtime. 

2. Use Blackout Curtains/Shades

Any ambient light to which you’re exposed throughout the night will compromise sleep quality by interrupting transitions between sleep cycles [4], so make your bedroom as dark as possible. Black out shades are a great place to start, and are available in every size and color. We use these shades and are very happy with them.

Make sure that your shades sit in a track that is custom cut for your window, otherwise light will still seep in around the sides. 

3. Wear an Eye Mask

Research demonstrates that light can pass readily enough through closed eyelids to suppress melatonin production [5], so getting a high-quality eye mask is also a gamechanger (especially if your bedroom has large windows or other sources of light that are difficult to black out). 

We highly recommend the eye masks offered by Manta Sleep---they completely block all light and are very comfortable (we personally use them). 

For the next 30 days, get 10% off your sleep mask by entering the code SYNCHRO at checkout.

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