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Spending Time In Bright Light May Help With Sleep And Mood

Spending Time In Bright Light May Help With Sleep And Mood

People feel better and wake up more easily when they are exposed to bright light in the morning hours. When bright light enters the retina of our eyes, it transmit cues to our brain to stay alert. This early, bright light exposure can help us to fall asleep quicker, sleep more soundly, and experience less negative mood during the day. 


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Research Supports Health Benefits For Daytime Light Exposure

Research Supports Health Benefits For Daytime Light Exposure

Bright light exposure during the day has been linked with better sleep and mood. For example, office workers who have more natural light from windows in their work environments have higher quality sleep and fall asleep faster than those without well-lit offices. They also reported lower symptoms of depression than office workers without high levels of light exposure. Specifically, the individuals with natural light are more likely to:

  • Experience higher sleep continuity throughout the night
  • Take less time to fall asleep
  • Report lower levels of negative emotions


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Studies Show That Evening Light Levels Should Be Low For Sleep

Studies Show That Evening Light Levels Should Be Low For Sleep

Bright light during the nighttime is not ideal for sleep. Exposure to bright light at night can suppress melatonin, or natural hormones that help us feel sleepy. Some research suggests that using “night shift mode” may not reduce melatonin suppression. Thus, using backlit electronic devices are not guaranteed to prevent mobile device usage from disrupting sleep. Moreover, pre-sleep arousal, or high cognitive engagement before sleep, may contribute to poor sleep regardless of using night shift mode or other forms of blocking bright light.


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Practical Tips To Manage The Light In Our Environments For Sleep

Practical Tips To Manage The Light In Our Environments For Sleep

  1. Find brightness in your day. Spend time outdoors. Take walking breaks. During the day, hang out near a window or a well-lit area.
  2. Limit screen time before bed. Opt for analog activities in the late evening (e.g., 30 min. before bed). Read a relaxing book. Write “happiness” or gratitude lists in your journal. Chat over the phone with a good friend or listen to a podcast. 
  3. Calm yourself with a nighttime ritual. Practice calming activities to prepare for sleep. Practice the same, simple sleep steps each night. Modify them when you need to, and use this ritual as your go-to system to sleep well. 


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I am an academic sleep researcher, healthy sleep advocate, and writer. #sleephealth #sleepguide #sleepingtips


Spending time in well-lit areas during the day is an undervalued method to sleep well at night and feel positive emotions during the day.


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