The big question, should I sleep in complete darkness? If we want to sleep well, have balanced hormones and be well we have to understand the importance of sleep. The atmosphere in which we sleep is just as important as sleep itself and in this post you will learn exactly why. The crazy thing is that even a tiny bit of light at night can destroy our hormones.
What happens when you sleep
Every night we sleep our body is repairing and growing. When we mess with these two CRUCIAL functions, we mess with our mitochondria. Eventually – after only a short time of disrupted sleep – our mitochondria become dysfunctional and we experience disease. Another common effect of dysfunctional mitochondria is weight gain since they become less efficient in creating ATP. This leads to energy loss and a slowed metabolism. Low energy = increased system mass (aka your body).
When it’s dark, our growth hormone peaks. Ahem, this means we need total darkness for our growth hormone to kick butt. A good night’s sleep is brought on by serotonin releasing melatonin at night. The only way this process happens is if there is NO blue or green light in the equation, like none.. Therefore, you must block blue and green light after dark if you want your growth hormone production to go well and you want to sleep well.
What light does to your body
Light is meant for.. day time. Since the beginning of time we’ve been awake in the day and asleep at night. It’s only fairly recently that we’ve had the “luxury” of artificial light to fuel our workaholic and night owl tendencies. These tendencies are destroying our health and we have to stop where we are. This light 24/7 from artificial sources is not natural in away way. The light we are commonly exposed to is blue light and it’s just about everywhere. Constant exposure to the man-made version of this light is a detriment to our health.
We are exposed to blue (and green) light from phones, tablets, e-readers, computer, smart watches, thermometers, houselights, billboards, headlights, screens and many other sources. It is no longer an “occasional” exposure, we are being bombarded from every angle at every hour. This blue and green light disrupts the regular flow of our awake and sleep hormones. Artificial light after dark does not allow serotonin to work in your pineal gland to stimulate the release of melatonin.
What light does at night
“You’ve heard me talk about how circadian rhythm and melatonin follow a distinct production schedule that is linked to your circadian rhythm schedule. During the day – when it’s light – almost no melatonin is produced. Then, in the night, almost all melatonin is produced! (8) Just 2 weeks of intermittent night light exposure led to a decrease in melatonin production. You have to make it a habit to block light at night and sleep in a completely DARK room.”
“The reason this wreaks havoc on our hormones is because if we are exposed to this high- kelvin light that’s trying to mimic the sun at 9 p.m. our bodies become confused because they no longer know what time it is. As I talked about in the sunlight section (section 1), light and food tell us it’s daytime and time to be awake and alert. Do you see how this can lead to hormonal imbalance, digestive issues and weight gain?” <— excerpt from the Hormones & Blue light chapter of my Ebook
If you are exposed to any blue or green light at night (you most likely are), it’s essential you block that light with blue light blocking glasses like these ones. Complete darkness is essential for regulating proper sleep. Take this seriously!
“Once the sun has set, it is time to rest. The longer you delay rest and the more fake light you see after dark, the sicker you will get. This also means that you need to create an environment, particularly after sundown, that minimizes blue light. Even small amounts can shut down melatonin production. Black out curtains and zero-blue lightbulbs for bedroom and bathroom are worth the money. “– Dr. Stilllman
How light affects hormones
Let’s start with the glorious awake and alert hormone, Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates our appetite, mood and sleep. Serotonin is made in the gut when that beautiful sunlight enters our eyes and skin (it has photoreceptors, too). Some of that serotonin in the gut is stored up and used to make (for later release of) melatonin when it is dark. Melatonin is our sleep and chill hormone that’s crucial not only for basic homeostasis in the body but for high quality sleep without disturbance.
Put the pieces together and you can see that we NEED morning sunlight in our eyes and skin to get proper sleep at night! Cool huh? It’s important to remember that these hormones aren’t the only hormones suppressed and affected by artificial light at night. It’s affects the body as whole.
When we have light (which we now know boosts serotonin) at night when it’s supposed to be dark, the melatonin will never be released. Your serotonin will stay elevated and your sleep will be crap. This explains why so many women struggle tremendously to get a good nights sleep. With baby monitors, phones, TVs, street lights and general city light pollution, we have to take precautions for our health. This also explains the unexplainable weight gain that many of my clients experience. It’s all related to light.
Symptoms from light at night
- depressive symptoms
- disrupts the immune system
- weight gain
- circadian imbalance
- surpasses melatonin
- diminishes quality of sleep
Check this out, WHOA!
“In studies with lab mice, they gained more weight when exposed to light before bed despite exercising and eating the same amount as the mice who didn’t have light exposure.” (1)
Should I sleep in complete darkness
Now, this is the part of the blog post where you make a conclusion for yourself! Based off the evidence and science I just showed you and pieced together for you, what do you think? Will you start making an effort to sleep in darkness?
Ways to support your sleep
I deep dive into this subject in my Wild Women’s Hormones Ebook. Here are a few fantastic ways to support your hormones and get a great nights sleep.
- turn off all devices after sunset (or at least 3 hours before bed)
- get blackout curtains for your bedroom
- cover up your skin if you’re under artificial lights at dark
- wear blue light blockers anytime you’re inside and especially at night
- I love Ra Optics blue light blockers (I have the Wallace frame)
- code: SIMPLHOLISTIC
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