When you were a kid, your parents used to tell you “lights out” as a way to let you know that it is time to sleep. A lot of people underestimate the importance of turning off the lights when going to sleep. Eventually, the decision to turn off the lights or leave them on can have an impact on your overall health. Light, in this case, is not limited to ceiling lights and lamps. It also entails all the surrounding lights such as television, blue light from electronic devices and streetlamps.
Primary care physicians state that it is extremely important for a quality sleep to avoid any sources of light. It has been already identified that lack of sleep can cause serious health conditions. Therefore, it is essential to know whether sleeping with light can lead to problems with your health.
1. Side effects of sleeping with lights on
In order for your brain to achieve deeper sleep, there should be any exposure to light during sleep. The more exposure you have to light the more negative effect you will have on your brain oscillations. Apart from the aforementioned negative effect of light on the brain, a lack of sleep cause by light exposure can also lead to the following side effects:
- Depression: specialists determined that light exposure during sleep can cause depression. Additionally, blue lights coming from your electronic devices have the worst impact on your mood. A shortage of sleep has been linked to moodiness and irritability
- Obesity: studies showed that obesity was more prevalent in those who used to sleep with a television or lights on. In addition to that, it was identified that the less sleep you get the more food you are likely to eat the following day. It can negatively affect the timing of your meal making you eat late at night
- Accidents: as was mentioned before, exposure to light during does not allow your brain to reach deeper sleep. Therefore, it influences your quality of sleep and in some cases leads to a shortage of sleep. Lack of sleep makes you less alert the following day. This is extremely dangerous if you drive a vehicle or any other type of machinery. Older people, who suffer from a lack of sleep are more likely to fall
- Higher risk of chronic diseases: if light constantly interferes with your sleep in the long-run, you are running an increased risk of developing certain chronic conditions. These can entail heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
2. Benefits of sleeping with lights on
There are cases when sleeping with lights on can be beneficial. You can benefit from sleeping with lights on if you want to take a quick nap and do not want to fall into a deep sleep. However, you have to keep in mind that this approach does not involve a healthy sleep.
It might be also the case that your children are afraid of the dark. In this case, parents can make use of nightlights and other light sources that might be helpful in falling asleep. Primary care physicians emphasize on the fact that negative effects of sleeping with lights on outweigh possible benefits.
3. The effects of light exposure on sleep cycles
It has been already proven that the amount of sleep dictates your health and mood both in the short-term and in the long-run. Quality sleep assists in repairing your body and brain, recovering muscles, fighting diseases and chronic conditions as well as improving your mood.
When your body gets exposed to light during sleep, your circadian rhythm is thrown off. It leads to your brain producing less melatonin hormones that are aimed to make you sleepy. Because of the fact that your brain does not produce enough sleep-inducing melatonin, it might be extremely difficult for you to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
Specialists say that even if you manage to fall asleep with lights on you are running a risk of not getting enough rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Non-REM, which entails light deep sleep and light sleep, is the other stage of sleep. Without any doubt, light sleep is important. Although, not spending enough time in other sleep cycles will limit you from getting all the benefits of a healthy sleep. It was determined that your brain has to spend around 90 minutes at a time in each sleep cycle.
The bottom line
The quality of sleep highly depends on your surrounding environment. To be more specific, a healthy and quality sleep is very dependent on a quiet and dark space. As was mentioned above, shortage of sleep can lead to numerous health conditions and negatively affect the achievement of your goals.
Thus, if you are used to sleeping with lights on, it is a perfect time to start sleeping with lights off. If you have problems with falling asleep without light, you should steadily decrease exposure to light.If you have serious sleep problems that last for a long period of time, you will need to seek assistance from a specialist. You might be suffering from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia. Do not hesitate to contact a primary care physician if you have difficulties with falling or staying asleep. Keep in mind that lack of sleep can lead to serious health conditions.
If you still don’t feel like you’re getting enough sleep, see a doctor to rule out other issues, such as sleep apnea or insomnia.
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