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A dark night is good for your health

Our sleep and wake patterns

On its own, the circadian rhythm takes almost 24 hours. Our bodies rely on the Sun to reset this cycle and keep it at 24 hours, the length of our days. Light and the dark are important signals for the cycle.

During the night, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically. When the Sun comes up in the morning, melatonin has already started falling, and you wake up.

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A dark night is good for your health

A dark night is good for your health

https://theconversation.com/a-dark-night-is-good-for-your-health-39161

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Your body needs dark too

While we are starting to pay attention to how important sleep is, the need for dark is still mostly ignored.

Being exposed to regular patterns of light and dark regulates our circadian rhythm. Disruption of this rhythm may increase the risk of developing some health conditions including obesity, diabetes and breast cancer.

Our sleep and wake patterns

On its own, the circadian rhythm takes almost 24 hours. Our bodies rely on the Sun to reset this cycle and keep it at 24 hours, the length of our days. Light and the dark are important signals for the cycle.

During the night, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically. When the Sun comes up in the morning, melatonin has already started falling, and you wake up.

Our bodies in the dark

During the dark, levels of the hormone leptin (hunger control), go up. This means we do not feel hungry while low levels make us hungry.

Ans research found that sleep disruption and turning on lights lowers leptin levels which makes people hungry in the middle of the night.

Not all light is the same

Some kinds of light make you more alert and more awake, and others have less of an effect:

  • Sunlight is strong in blue, short-wavelength light, although it includes all other colors as well. That’s important in the morning when we need to be alert and awake.
  • Your tablet, phone, computer or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) all emit this kind of blue light. So they are dangerous if used at night.
  • Other kinds of light, like dimmer long wavelength yellow and red light, have very little effect on this transition.

Electricity changed the way we sleep

  • Before electricity, people experienced bright, full-spectrum days of sunlight and dark nights. We slept in a different way than we do now.
  • Everything changed when electric lighting was invented in the latter part of the 19th century. Since then there has been an ever-increasing assault on dark.
  • Today, most of us get too little light during the day and too much at night for our circadian rhythm to function at its best.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Science of Sleep

The average adult spends 36 % (or about one-third) of his or her life asleep.

Purpose of Sleep:

  • Restoration
  • Memory Consolidation
  • Metabolic Health
Restoration

The first purpose of sleep is restoration.

Every day, your brain accumulates metabolic waste as it goes about its normal neural activities. Sleeping restores the brains healthy condition by removing these waste products. Accumulation of these waste products has been linked to many brain-related disorders.

Memory Consolidation

The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation.

Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is responsible for your long term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper your ability to remember facts and feelings/emotions.

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Your Body is a Clock

Around 30 to 50 percent of people sleep between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Another 40 percents are either slightly morning people or slightly evening people.

To understand...

Early Bird or Night Owls

The body is an orchestra of organs, each providing an essential function. In this metaphor, the circadian rhythm is the conductor. The conductor makes every neurotransmitter, every hormone, and every chemical in the body cycle with the daily rhythm.

This makes us our sleep habits unique and tailored.

Sleep Habits

Being a morning (or evening) person is inborn, genetic, and very hard to change.

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The problem with staying up late

Long days can leave us tired and exhausted. But, our days would be less hard and exhausting if we weren't so tired through them.

Most night owls have to wake a similar time to other people...

Learn to love a good night's sleep

When trying to change your sleep habits, don't give up too soon. Keep it up for a week. The days will get easier, and you'll learn to love sleep again.

To get to bed earlier, slow down in the evenings. Read a book rather than engaging with your smartphone or laptop. Listening to music is good too.

Have something to get up for

Schedule something fun or desirable to look forward to in the morning before work. 

It could include coffee, the news, gym or uninterrupted smartphone access.

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Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;
Melatonin

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.

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The internal clock
The internal clock

All individuals possess what is called 'an internal clock', which has as main purpose to schedule sleep and wakefulness within one entire day of 24 hours.

Now comes the difference in re...

Get enough sleep in unusual times

Whenever we undergo a change in our daily schedule, our sleep tends to suffer a bit.

Simple facts such as not waking up and going to bed at the usual hour, not getting enough natural light or making less to no exercise can lead to sleep disorders.

Save your sleep

Especially during times of staying only in the house, one needs to make sure that the regular schedule is not too much disturbed, as this can lead, among other issues, to sleep disorders.

A good way to get your normal sleep is by maintaining a regular wake-up and bedtime, even through unusual periods of time. Furthermore, ensuring that your room gets enough natural light, or even better, that you get it, will definitely help. Among other helpful tips there are the fact of giving up on coffee or making as many indoor physical exercises as possible.

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Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotio...

Get through sleep deprivation:
  • Stabilize your blood sugar, by eating hearty food (protein and fat) more often.
  • Reduce refined carbs and increase fats and proteins.
  • B-complex vitamin supplements can give you an immediate boost in alertness and mental clarity.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath - might even help you get enough energy to exercise the next day.
  • Drink more water than you usually do to help compensate.
  • Exercise is the single best way to “take out the trash” in your body, and after staying up more hours than you should.
Jet lag

Jet Lag is a debility similar to a hangover. Jet Lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast they leave your body rhythms behind.

Our biological clocks are synchronized to a 24-...

We take a few days to adjust

Our bodies take a few days to fully adjust, depending on not only how many time zones have been crossed, but also the direction of travel.

Usually, it would take five or six days to adjust to a six-hour shift in time zone. When you travel east, your body has a shorter time to synchronize with the regular 24-hour sun cycle. When you travel west, your body has extra time to adjust.

Speeding up the adjustment

Generally, the best way to fool your biological clock is to shift your internal rhythms before the flight.

  • Restrict light exposure to specific times.
  • Restrict rest and meals.
  • Adjust activities such as walking and running to specific times.
  • Use melatonin - the hormone that makes us sleepy - in small amounts. However, certain people should avoid melatonin.
Not getting enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep

Now that is an issue most of us face on a daily basis: not getting enough sleep because we are too stressed or paying too much attention to our screens, for different reasons.

The bad news ...

Make believe it is time to go to bed

If you find yourself experiencing issues when trying to fall asleep, you might as well consider making your brain believe that night has come.

In order to do this, you could start using dim table or side lamps instead of bright ones, turning on your phone the so-called 'night mode' or using a mask to cover your face.

The so-called 'sleep debt' and how to fight it

Whenever we fall behind on sleep, most of us have the tendency to try to catch up during weekends. The result is not that good though: it confuses our internal clock and therefore, we tend to feel even more tired afterwards.

So we should actually try waking up and going to bed at the same hours on both weekdays and weekends and building up a regular schedule that suits our needs.

Sleep stability

It's the key to a good night’s sleep. It means pinning your bedtime to the same time every night, even on weekends, and waking up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. ...

The "8-hour sleep" myth

8 hours of sleep/night is a useful goal, but it’s not true that everyone needs that. 

A lot of people get obsessed with this goal of getting 8 hours of sleep every single night, and because they’re someone who just doesn’t need that much sleep, or they can’t reliably sleep that long, they get anxious about it and that actually creates issues with insomnia.

Basic sleep hygiene
  • not drinking caffeine after midday;
  • not exercising too late;
  • not drinking alcohol before bed;
  • eating sensibly;
  • leaving mobile devices outside the bedroom (artificial light disrupts the brain).

If doing natural things like this doesn’t work, then it might be wise to consult with a specialist or a doctor.

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