9:27 am / Oct 27 2018

How Does Bedroom Lighting Affect Your Sleep?

Lighting design is only one aspect of an overall design scheme, however, in the bedroom, it can have a profound impact on the ability to sleep. Light levels, type, and timing all make a difference in being able to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep. Light in the bedroom has to be considered more than illumination; it’s a key element of sleep support.

Light’s Impact on the Sleep-Wake Cycle

The human body controls the sleep-wake timing through a complex series of 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms. One of the most powerful influences on the timing of the circadian rhythms is sunlight. Sunlight that filters through the Earth’s atmosphere falls on the blue spectrum. Special photoreceptors in the eyes, called ganglion cells, absorb blue light and directly send signals to the circadian region of the brain. Light exposure during the day suppresses sleep hormones, but once the sun starts to go down, the sleep hormones are prepped for release.

Light Design in the Bedroom and the Ability to Sleep

Because of lights’ heavy influence on the sleep-wake cycle, lighting design is of the utmost importance in the bedroom. The following will need to be taken into consideration:

  • Smart Control: Smart bulbs are the latest way to control light levels. Smart bulbs sync with a phone via an app and hub. Bedroom lights can be turned off remotely from the bed, in some cases, dimmed, or turned off while away from home (which doesn’t really aid sleep so much as reduce energy bills). They can be used in ambient, task, or accent lights.
  • Better Bulb Choices and Light Placement: If possible, avoid high-efficiency light bulbs as they give off a blue light that can suppress sleep hormones. Instead, opt for traditional incandescent bulbs or specially designed high-efficiency “sleep” bulbs that do not emit blue light. If the bedroom has track or recessed lighting, aim the bulbs away from the bed so that light is directed away from the bed. Any task light near the bed should not directly illuminate the bed to avoid too much light exposure no matter the bulb choice.
  • Window Coverings as Lighting Design: Window treatments have to be considered as part of lighting design because they control natural light exposure. A bedroom flooded with morning light is more than one person’s dream scenario of an open, airy sanctuary. However, it can cause premature waking, especially in the summer. Heavy drapes, blackout curtains, and blinds can all be used to block sunlight, street lamps, headlights, and light pollution at night. For those who still want an airy bedroom, a second layer of sheer curtains offers more versatility over natural light control.

A Note on Light and Bedroom Layout

The layout of bedroom furniture in relation to the lighting can also affect sleep. Think carefully about bed placement. Placement directly across from or underneath the windows may inadvertently expose you too much light first thing in the morning, causing premature waking. A bed placed on a side wall is less likely to get direct exposure at the wrong time of day.

Strategic lighting improves the chances of getting deep restful sleep. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference.

Contributed by https://www.sleephelp.org/


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