Having Trouble Sleeping? Reduce Light Pollution for a Better Night’s Rest

| 6/30/2010 12:25:11 PM

Having trouble sleeping through the night? Blame it on light pollution. The human body operates best when it’s in sync with natural cycles, but excess lighting from large urban areas has thrown off our biological clock and its connection with the rising and falling of the sun. Light pollution, which occurs when artificial lighting interferes with the natural rhythms of light and dark, can lead to a variety of health problems, including sleep deprivation, depression, weight gain and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

mountain with light pollution
Light pollution obscures the night sky and keeps us from getting a good night’s rest. Photo By Cestomano/Courtesy Flickr. 

The darker the room, the better you’ll sleep, experts say. Our bodies interpret light as a signal to wake up, so when we sleep in a room that is polluted with artificial light—either from internal sources such as electronics or external sources such as street lights—our sleep becomes fragmented, which is why we often wake up drowsy the next morning.

Exposure to light at night also interferes with our bodies’ natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle, sexual development and may even help prevent cancer. Studies have shown that women with breast cancer tend to have lower levels of melatonin, and that introducing additional melatonin to the body can shrink tumors in women with breast cancer.

woman sleeping
Want to get the best night's sleep possible? Eliminate all sources of light within your bedroom. Photo By bolandrotor/Courtesy Flickr. 

To get the best night’s sleep—and avoid health problems down the road—reduce light pollution in your sleeping environment.