New Perspectives on the Importance of Darkness

The importance of the correct quality and quantity of high-quality sleep cannot be overstated. During sleep we renew and repair our body and cleanse toxins from our brain. Sleep is when we lay down new short-term memories into long-term memory. For those of us wanting to perform better, getting a good night’s sleep is critical, especially before an event where we want to do our best. Is there a day where we don’t want to do our best?

Sleep may help us optimize the use of our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that helps us to make good decisions. This can be important in everything we do from choosing better foods, to having more patience with our family, fellow workers, and even other drivers on the road.

Optimizing sleep may allow us to have more energy and not be tired. With more energy, we may decide to move more in our day. Better sleep may calm your desire to eat to get more energy.

Total darkness helps improve the quality of sleep. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is maintained better in total darkness. This is darkness to the point you can not see your hand in front of your face. This can be difficult to attain if you live in the city and have streetlights nearby. Blackout shades on the windows can help. These should also not allow light in around the edges. Using a sleep mask is another inexpensive way to eliminate light reaching your eyes while sleeping.

In a study done in Tel Aviv, researchers measured the amount of light from streetlights. Then they overlaid this on breast cancer incidence in the city. The two areas matched. Just because they matched does not mean that the light caused the breast cancer. Correlation is not causation. However, it may be prudent for one to increase sleep quality so one can repair and heal optimally each night.    

Walking safely in the dark is imperative. It is critical to avoid slips, trips and falls. Clear the paths of trip hazards. For lighting, there are red-light motion sensor night lights. Plug those into an outlet in your bedroom, hallway, and bathroom. You should be able to see appropriately to navigate the area safely in the dark. The red light will not decrease your melatonin production; therefore, you may be able to drop back to sleep more easily.

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