They say eyes are the windows to the soul. Eyes are also the window to light, and a lot of it when you are trying to sleep during the day! Can someone say, Turn off the sun? Room darkening is a necessary element to restful sleeping. Melatonin, also known as the darkness hormone, is released by a gland in our brains to induce our bodies to sleep when it is dark. Melatonin decreases when light is taken in through the eyes, causing sub optimal sleep and sometimes even tricking the body into thinking it is more awake. Chemical reactions occur in the body and tell us to sleep in the dark and wake up in the light. The outside cues in nature that tell our bodies when to sleep are called zeitgebers and the most important zeitgeber is the light. Naturally, we are supposed to be sleeping at night and awake in the day. Here are a few essential solutions for getting the most restful sleep during the brightest hours of the day
If you work in an environment with a computer or any type of “blue light”, using the night mode will adjust the screen to a natural color. Blue light is light given off by many electronics and is visible to the human eye. Since it is a short wavelength, it produces higher amounts of energy. Not only is it known to cause macular degeneration,(an eye disease that causes permanent damage and vision loss), but blue light will penetrate the eye and tell the brain to release less melatonin, causing the body to stay awake. This is why scientific studies have told us not to use cell phones or electronics an hour or two before bedtime because the blue light keeps us awake. Decreasing the amount of melatonin the body produces is detrimental to our health. If you don’t have night mode on your computer, there are some fashionable glasses you can purchase that help to shield your eyes from blue light. They are called blue light blocking glasses. Check these out on amazon! Not only are they affordable, but they block out up to 97% of the blue light when most glasses only block out 50%. Plus they are super stylish!
Blue light blocking glasses increase sleep quality and quantity. In fact, the average person working day shift should invest in a pair if they are interested in preserving the health of their eyes. Another way you can avoid blue light if you don’t have night mode on your computer is downloading a program called f.lux. It is free and decreases the blue light on the screen. The blue light blocking glasses should also be worn when leaving work. Remember when you were little and asked your mom, Why is the sky blue? The blue sky wakes our bodies to prepare for the day. Blue light from the sun can also keep awake, so the glasses should be worn all the way home if they are to be used properly.
Once you are home and away from the harsh light of the sun, you will need to adjust your environment to tell your body it is night time. A way to change the light entering our eyes is to use an amber light once you are in bed. As long as the room is dark enough, this light can help your body to produce melatonin and give you more restful sleep.
If you don’t mind wearing a sleep mask to bed, this is one option that can severely limit the amount of light entering your corneas and telling your body to wake up. There are many options to choose from. The old days of Grandmas floral design sleep mask with overly tight elastic bands is over. Looking online, you can easily find a range of sleep masks for restful sleep. Many even come with headphones to use music and other stimuli for better sleep. See my page on how sound can affect sleep! These headphones are priced extremely affordable for the comfort and benefits they provide.
Many people find blackout curtains a helpful addition to their bedroom décor as well if moving into the bathtub isn’t an option for you! These curtains are thick and designed to block out the penetrating rays of the sun. Some are actually pretty stylish. Even normal heavy drapes can do the trick and there are some blinds that limit light as well. Wrap around rods for the blackout curtains are also very helpful. They can be found at almost any Walmart or local store that carries home goods. Some are pretty cheap and there are a wide variety that you can purchase online. I recommend amazon just because their return policy is so easy. Here are some links to some that I have tried and have worked pretty good.
If you have some spare change to spend, and like the idea of feeling safe and secure camping in your room, the bed tent is for you. It is totally worth the price. It is a private oasis made to snugly fit around the mattress of your regular bed. Made originally for napping and people that want privacy in dorms and barracks, it can be zipped closed to reduce the ambient light coming in. It is a perfect little pod if you want the comfort and solitude of your own space without affecting the entire room. It can be used with pretty much any type of bed from foam to spring coil, even an air bed or futon. The best part about the bed tent is that its easily set up and can be taken for traveling when zipped in the carrying bag.
Temporarily moving into the basement is another option for some people if you have a basement or another room in your house that is facing west or doesn’t have windows. If you can’t afford room darkening curtains, blue light blocking glasses (which I highly recommend) or a sleep mask (most are extremely affordable), cardboard or Styrofoam and even aluminum foil can do the trick if cut to the right size of your window. Get creative and depending on whether you own your house or where you live, home depot and some plywood could help too. Hobby lobby has black felt and other materials that can be cut to the exact size you need so you don’t let any light in. Even the Dollar store has black foam boards you can use.
Regardless of which method you choose, adjusting the dark and light is essential for healthier sleep. Luckily for me, my house actually has my master bedroom facing the west which is ideal for my night shift schedule. The morning light is on the other side of the house which is fantastic and my blinds and curtains almost completely eliminate light in my room.
These are just a few ideas for helping block the light of day for the vampires within us. As always, If you have any questions, feel free to email us and we will get back to you. Have a great sleep!