All humans have a circadian rhythm—a natural sleep/wake cycle affected by light. Before electricity, humans lived by the sun, rising with the dawn and turning in with the dusk. But now, we are constantly surrounded by light, and our brain hasn’t adjusted.
Constant unnatural light throws off our circadian rhythm. Most of us aren’t getting the sleep we need. And even if we are sleeping the minimum required 8 hours, our sleep quality isn’t great. What’s more, poor sleep quality is disastrous for our health. Disrupted sleep can increase our risk of depression and heart disease. Lack of sleep can also cause memory and concentration problems and can weaken our immune system, a risk we don’t want to take in times like these.
Improving sleep quality is vital—and easy. Just sleeping in a darker room can get our circadian rhythm back on track and improve our health. Darkness triggers our brain to produce melatonin—the sleep hormone that plays a significant role in our circadian rhythm and in our immune system. Melatonin tells our body that it’s time to sleep by relaxing muscles, lowering body temperature, and causing drowsiness. The hormone is also known to play a role in helping us fight off infections. The darker our sleeping environment, the more melatonin our brain produces.
In short, sleeping in a darker room is one of the best things we can do for our health. So, turn off screens an hour before bedtime, turn off lamps and nightlights, and, if streetlights are a problem, wear an eye mask to block out any excess light during sleep. Our body—and our morning self—will thank us.