How to Get Better Sleep at Night Naturally?
Do you sleep better with lights off? Or have you adapted your body to sleep irrespective of whether it's light or dark?
Whatever is the case, the fact remains that as mammals we have evolved to be active during the day and to rest at night. As a result, our body naturally becomes alert and increases energy levels on exposure to light. So if you are in the habit of looking at your mobile screens or gadgets while going to sleep, and often complain of not being able to sleep well, you know who the culprit is.
The simple answer to how to get better sleep at night naturally is to avoid exposure to artificial light just before going to sleep. Still not sure why? Read on.
How Light Affects Your Sleep Patterns
As mentioned above, we as mammals are accustomed to sleep in the dark. When it’s time, the pineal gland in our body releases a hormone melatonin which helps us sleep. Melatonin is the reason how your body knows when to reduce the functionality of your various body organs. Your body needs an adequate amount of melatonin for quality sleep. It also increases the duration of sleep and decreases the heart and respiration rate. Melatonin is the reason why most of the mammals sleep at night.
However the amount of melatonin released when you are about to sleep depends upon the light your retina catches. So if you are exposed to artificial light, or using gadgets just before going to sleep, this interferes with the amount of melatonin produced. Your body works in the same way as in daylight, and you don’t get a night of refreshing sleep.
Light causes alertness in your mind and boosts up energy levels by reducing the languor in your body. Before the invention of artificial lights, the sun was our only source of light. Therefore, we adapted to sleeping at night. But now, thanks to the rapid evolution in technology, our sleeping patterns have changed. We now have regular exposure to light until late into the night. This not only affects our sleep but also our health.
The Rising Problem of Sleep Deprivation
An article published in the Times of India revealed that 98% of Indians are sleep deprived. Several cases of sleep disorders have also emerged, the most common ones being sleep apnea and insomnia. Lack of a proper sleep also opens the door to other health problems like blood pressure and heart-related issues, among elderly people.
Not only that, it also affects your work, family, and relations. 58% of Indians believe that a lack of sleep affects their work and 11% end up taking a leave from work. Further stats show that one out of ten employees falls asleep at work and, one-third of Indians snore in their sleep.
There is a clear established link between sleep deprivation and a range of personal, professional, emotional, psychological, and social problems. The best way around these is to ensure you get an uninterrupted sleep of anywhere between seven and nine hours. This can be done by making a few changes in your sleep schedule, exercising, eating healthy and so on.
How to Avoid Exposure to Light at Night?
Now that you know of the problems sleep deprivation can lead to, its best to do everything in your power to prevent that. So to improve your sleep quality and increase melatonin secretion in your body, it is important that you limit your exposure to light during night time. Here are a few tips for the same:
- Use better curtains: Curtains that you are using should be thick enough to block outside light—such as street light. Also, make sure that curtains are fully drawn during nights. Try to keep your porch light shut while you’re asleep if it is close to your bedroom.
- Limit your lighting: Gradually keep switching off the lights more and more as the night goes on, to maximise your body’s preparation for sleep and production of melatonin. Maybe, in the beginning, lights in the kitchen, then in the living room, and so on. At last, when you are about to go to bed, try to sleep in total darkness. It will restore your sleep cycle.
- Use eye masks: Comfortable eye masks can enhance your sleep. It increases darkness around your eyes; hence, the pineal gland can release more melatonin, and help you get a better sleep.
Exposure to light during night time is only one of the many reasons why you can't sleep well at night. While an improper sleep schedule is a major reason, there might also be chances of you suffering from a sleep disorder. Consider taking the sleep quiz to identify if you are at risk. Or if you have other symptoms like snoring, and breathing problems at night, take the home sleep test to know if you have sleep apnea.