A recently published article in the scientific journal Pharmacy and Therapeutics was titled ‘The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep’ – just in case any of us thought it was just something we do to kill time at night.
The article discusses the incredible increase in the pace of research into sleep and the consequences of not getting enough of it. While scientists continue their work to identify and clarify all of the functions of sleep, decades of studies have confirmed that sleep is necessary for our healthy functioning and even survival.
It is critical for our ability to think clearly, to be vigilant, to be alert, and to sustain attention. But sleep is also important for consolidation of memories, and most importantly, the regulation of emotions.
An even more recent Australian study looked at the impact of lighting in the home on our ability to get a good night’s sleep. The news wasn’t good.
The researchers found the average Australian home’s lighting was so bright it suppressed melatonin by nearly 50 per cent. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by a tiny gland situated in the brain. It plays an important role in the regulation of sleep cycles (also known as circadian rhythm). Its production is influenced by the detection of light and dark by the retina of the eye: melatonin secretion is inhibited when the retina detects light and is stimulated in the absence of light. In other words, melatonin sends a signal to the brain that it is time to get sleepy.
So, by exposing ourselves to such bright light, we are ‘tricking’ our brain and disturbing our circadian rhythm, which in turn disturbs our sleep. The other bad news is that the new energy-efficient LED lights are even brighter.
In fact, Associate Professor Cain, the lead scientist of the study said, “Light is a drug, a stimulant that is going to keep you from sleeping.”
So, what can we do about it?
Well, if we have dimmer switches – use them. Or maybe just reduce the number of lights that are turned on. But in homes where different people have different schedules or habits, that may not always be possible.
That’s where innovative sleep masks such as the Dreamlight range can help.
Dreamlight Ease and Ease Lite masks have been specifically developed to block out unwanted light and help you get a better night’s sleep.
The masks were created using 3D face-mapping technology, which ensures that cushioning around the face is distributed exactly where it’s needed most. Consequently, it blocks out 100 per cent of light, is likely to fit ‘just right’ and stay on all night long.
Dreamlight sleep masks are also make-up friendly, washable, and very portable, making them a great travel companion.