There’s a strong tie between light and a good night’s sleep. Sunlight is one of the biggest influences on sleep — counterintuitive to what you’d think you need for a peaceful night’s sleep. Sunlight plays a critical role in regulating circadian rhythm. First thing’s first, why is there such a strong connection between light and a dreamy night's sleep?
The key lies in circadian rhythm? Contrary to what it sounds like, it’s not a fancy, new dance move. Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that coordinates a range of processes in the body — such as body temperature or metabolism, and it regulates sleep. It is essentially your body’s internal clock and signals to your brain when it’s time to be awake and alert and when it’s time for rest. It’s controlled by a tiny part of the brain, informally known as the circadian pacemaker, which is influenced by light exposure.
When you get exposure to sunlight, it enters your eye and is sensed by cells in the retina. It then gets carried to the brain and is interpreted as information about what time of day it is. The brain then sends signals throughout the body to control organs and other systems, depending on the time of day it is. If you're exposed to only natural light, your circadian rhythm begins to match the sunrise and sunset. However, since we are no longer cave people and live in modern society where we’re exposed to electricity and artificial light, we experience many different light sources, all of which affect the brain’s circadian pacemaker.
The light we get every day, the kind (sunlight, or artificial) and the frequency and length that we’re exposed to that light greatly affects our sleep — influencing circadian rhythm, the melatonin you produce, and sleep cycles. Getting a lot of artificial light can cause a person’s circadian rhythm to be impacted, negatively impacting sleep and other health issues. When you’re exposed to light early in the morning, your sleep schedule will be moved to an earlier time. Light exposure in the evening pushes the sleep cycle backward towards a later bedtime.
So, why should we get sunlight first thing in the morning and again in the evening? Exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning results in greater alertness when we are awake and helps us sleep better at night. Better sleep helps us have a better mood during the day, too. The amount you may need depends on many factors, including genetics and age. Sunlight helps your body make vitamin D, which is important for your bones, blood cells, and immune system. We see vitamin D as a win-win, just be super to wear SPF.
About two hours before bedtime, your circadian clock is most sensitive to light. Dimming light in the evening, two hours before bedtime, will help you sleep better as it prepares your body for rest. Do you often wake up in the middle of the night? Keep the lights dim if you do to help you back to sleep after!
The Restore features a sunrise alarm feature — where you can choose a soothing light that slowly wakes you up in the morning. Might we suggest the “Sunrise of a Flower Orchard'' for a soft sunrise light to slowly wake up. And then head outside to enjoy your morning coffee. Can’t get outside? Sitting near a window with lots of natural light is the next best thing.
In summary, it’s simple: get sunlight in the morning and evenings for a good night’s sleep. Ah, dreamy rest, unlocked.