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Why a dark bedroom can dramatically improve sleep quality
A study published by Travelodge last year revealed that the average Brit gets just six hours and 14 minutes of sleep a night – https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/807677/sleep-problems-Britons-two-hours-less-than-recommended-reason.
Not only are we getting nearly two hours less sleep than we should, we also wake up an average of twice a night and spend two nights of the week tossing and turning.
Many things are thought to be contributing to our lack of sleep – stress, being too hot and spending too much time on mobile devices are some of the most obvious culprits. Did you know however that sleeping in a room that’s too dark can also have a dramatic impact on the quality of your sleep?
The connection between light and sleep
We all have an internal clock which mirrors nature’s cycle of day and night. It’s this timekeeper that regulates many of our body’s functions including sleep, energy levels and hunger. As evening approaches and it starts to get darker outside for example, our bodies start to produce more melatonin and our body temperature falls. This helps us to become less alert so we’re more likely to fall asleep.
When we’re exposed to morning light, our melatonin levels (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep) are low and our body temperature begins to rise, helping us to feel alert and ready for the day. If your bedroom isn’t completely dark, it can delay the production of melatonin which makes it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even artificial light can send wake-up messages to the brain and suppress the production of that all-important sleep-inducing hormone. What’s more, even if you do manage to fall asleep, you’re also likely to struggle to stay asleep if there’s light peeking through the curtains.
Controlling your exposure to light to get a better night’s sleep
As well as ensuring your bedroom is nice and dark when you go to sleep, there are a number of things you can do in the day to ensure your body starts producing melatonin at night.
- Try to get outside as early as you can in the morning. Whether it’s drinking your coffee in the garden, walking to work or even just sitting near a window, exposing yourself to natural sunlight first thing can work wonders for regulating your body clock.
- Use low-wattage, incandescent bedside lamps to help you wind down in the hours before sleep.
- Ensure there is no light coming from electronic devices such as televisions, bright alarm clocks or chargers.
- If you wake up in the night and need to get up, try to avoid turning on any lights. If you have to, use a darker lamp instead of stronger overhead lights.
- Try not to watch television or look at your mobile phone or tablet too close to bedtime. The blue light emitted from these devices is very disruptive to our sleep patterns and can make it very difficult to fall asleep.
- Experts say that if you can still see your hard in front of your face when the lights are off, your room isn’t dark enough. If curtains aren’t quite doing the job, consider investing in solid shutters. Not only do these window dressings look fantastic, they also offer near black out against light infiltration.