How Light Affects Sleep Health – The Sunday Sleeper from the Sleep Doctor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Welcome to the Sunday Sleeper, there is some really interesting research coming out about light and sleep as well as some conformational research around menopause and sleep.

Grab a wonderful beverage and let’s explore.

Light At Night Linked To Increased Depressive Symptoms

A recent study published in the March 2018 issue of American Journal of Epidemiology shows that even minimal exposure to light at night increases depressive risk, even at 5 lux (depending on the examples you read, and I’m settling on this one, if you light a standard taper candle in a dark room, step back about five feet, that amount of light is about 5 Lux).

The study was conducted on older adults who are more likely to get up and turn on a light to go to the bathroom, have lit equipment by their bed, to wake up in the night and read a device, or have nightlights on.


The researchers said that while not specifically studied they are concerned that the challenges could be the same for children as their eyes are even MORE sensitive to light. The study researcher, Kenji Obayoshi, says that “The capacity for light reception of a 70-year-old is one-fifth of that of a teenager.” Light exposure may also reduce the ability for the body to produce melatonin.

As a general rule, it’s probably a good idea to remove as many sources of light as possible when you sleep, no matter how old you are.

Now, light exposure alone may not be the only reason for the reaction (the study wasn’t designed to establish cause and effect). Light at night does most likely throw off your internal biological clock.

Here’s What To Do

Block Out Direct Light And Ambient Light

The most obvious choices are to turn off ALL light emitting devices (or at least all you can) in your room and block out any outdoor ambient light. Blackout curtains and shades are a great choice for assisting in blocking out ambient light. If you need to have a nightlight on in the bathroom, be sure that your door is closed so that the light is blocked, consider reducing the brightness of the light as well.

Reduce Blue Light And Don’t Read On A Device If You Wake Up At Night

If you are going to read on a device before bed (I try not to but I do on occasion). When I do, I use blue light blocking glasses, these are the ones I like best after a great deal of research, they have both regular and over prescription glasses versions. The other issue with reading at night is that if you have a bed partner, that light is disturbing their sleep too.

Use Biological Lighting Before Bed And When Waking Up

Consider using Biological Lighting in your bedroom and Bathroom. Use a GoodNight bulb in your bedroom or bedside light to help support your circadian rhythm and preparing your body for sleep. Use a GoodDay bulb in your bathroom for the morning while you are getting ready to prepare your body for the day. If you choose to purchase those bulbs, use the discount code Breus17 to get a 10% discount.

At a minimum, try to get sun on your face for 10-15 minutes either through a window or by going outdoors. In the winter sunlight is also beneficial if you experience seasonal affective disorder.

Night and darkness support sleep, do all you can to keep it dark until you are ready to be awake!

More Menopause And Sleep Studies
I know from your comments that the ladies among you have all enjoyed the menopause blog series I did.  There is some new research which only strengthens so many of the ideas presented in the posts I did. If you want to read those, click here.

In a new study, Sleep Review magazine reports that middle-aged women found that sleep problems vary across the stages of menopause, yet they are consistently correlated with hot flashes and depression. The findings suggest that addressing those risk factors may also address sleep disruptions, as well as give women hope that their sleep symptoms may not last past the menopausal transition.

The study found no correlation between the likelihood of reporting poor sleep before menopause, during menopause, and after menopause. This means that women who had insomnia during menopause were not more likely to have insomnia after menopause. Which is good news!

If you want to see the original study check it out here. Remember to take a look at the new treatment for Menopause symptoms and hormone balance called Femmenessence.

Here are my top Facebook and Twitter posts for the week:

My top FB post: Want to sleep like a baby tonight? Get my FREE sleep course.

My top Twitter Post: A snoring partner wakes his non-snoring partner an average of 20 times per night, with an average sleep loss of 1 hour a day.

Not much media this week as I’m at Natural Products Expo West this week doing a lot of media so next week will likely have a bunch for you to see.

That’s it for this Sunday Sleeper, until next week …

Sweet Dreams,

Michael Breus, Ph.D – The Sleep Doctor

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Michael Breus, Ph.D - The Sleep Doctor is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and one of only 168 psychologists to pass the Sleep Medical Specialty Board without going to medical school. Dr. Breus is a sought after lecturer and his knowledge is shared daily in major national media worldwide including Today, Dr. Oz, Oprah, and for fourteen years as the sleep expert on WebMD. Dr. Breus is the bestselling author of The Power of When, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan and Good Night!

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