A good rest is essential to enjoy a better state of health, as well as to recover the energy lost throughout the day. Combined with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, good sleep hygiene brings significant benefits to people’s physical and mental well-being.
Some studies have shown that sleeping with dim light, such as a television or a lamp on, can affect not only the quality of sleep, but also the body at rest.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, cited by CNN, this light entered the eyelids and disrupted the sleep of study participants and was found to increase their blood sugar and heart rate.
For this experiment, the working group recruited 20 healthy young people and had them spend two nights in a sleep lab, all hooked up to devices that monitored a range of metrics to determine sleep quality. The first night they slept in a room with almost nothing to see, while the following night the youngsters were divided into two groups: some slept with the same amount of light and others with dim light from the ceiling. .
“In the literature, the estimate is that 5% to 10% of the light in the environment would pass through the closed eyelid into the eye, so that’s not really a lot of light.” As a result of this experiment, even this amount of light was shown to be sufficient to increase heart rate and insulin resistance, in addition to causing an imbalance of the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic nervous systems ( rest and relaxation).
The above, according to the expert, represents health risks, since previous research has linked high heart rate to future cardiovascular diseases and premature death. Insulin resistance has also been linked to type 2 diabetes because the body stops using glucose properly.
How to rest well?
For Dr. Zee, it’s clear that sleeping with even dim lights on can disrupt sleep. “Be sure to start dimming the lights at least an hour or two before bed to prepare your sleeping environment,” she advised.
“If you must have a light on for safety reasons, change the color. You can choose lights that have more reddish or brown tones,” he added.
For its part, Mayo Clinic shares six tips for falling asleep and resting better.
1. Set sleep schedules: it is recommended to reserve the amount of sleep needed according to age and various factors, because not all people need to sleep more than eight hours. For this, it is essential to define a time for getting up and going to bed, which is the same every day. Thus, the body can adapt to these times.
If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, it helps to do something relaxing, like reading or listening to soft music, and going back to bed when you feel tired.
2. Pay attention to food before sleeping: One of the advice given by the clinic is to try not to eat too much or too little before going to bed. In addition, it is advisable to avoid large meals in the evening, as the discomfort of satiety can disturb sleep.
Similarly, it is recommended to avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, due to their stimulating effects which take time to disappear from the body.
3. Prepare an environment conducive to sleep: Having all the elements in the room to achieve a quieter, cooler and more correct sleeping space is important. As Dr. Zee explained, making sure your bedroom is as dark as possible is key, as well as avoiding screen exposure before bedtime.
A tip is to practice relaxing activities before going to sleep, such as taking a bath, practicing relaxation techniques or reading a book.
4. Limit naps throughout the day, because sleeping for a long time during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep. Clinic experts advise not to take a nap for no more than 30 minutes and not to take them in the late afternoon.
5. Practice daily physical activity allows you to sleep better, you only have to try not to be close to bedtime.
6. Erase worries from the mind: Overthinking is one of the factors that makes it difficult to rest at night, so it is recommended to apply strategies to better control anxiety and stress, such as writing your worries in a journal and trying to solve them the next day.
How much sleep do I need?
According to the MedlinePlus portal, the recommended sleep time for each person may vary depending on their age, lifestyle, state of health, among other factors. However, taking into account age, the recommended sleep durations, in general, for sleeping are:
- New born: 16-18 hours a day
- Preschoolers: 11-12 hours a day
- School-age children: at least 10 hours a day
- Teenagers: 9-10 hours a day
- Adults (including the elderly): 7-8 hours a day