Isn’t it annoying when you can’t seem to fall asleep at night? You try and try to get to sleep, but your body or mind are so active from a long, stressful day that you toss and turn in bed for long minutes–or even hours!
Chamomile tea, soothing music, and counting sheep didn’t work for you, so what can you do to get to sleep easier Thanks to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, getting a good night’s sleep may be as simple as getting more light.
The Secret to Better Sleep: Daylight
The study, conducted at the University of Illinois, involved 49 people. 27 of the participants worked in offices without windows, while the other 22 worked in spaces that included a view to the outside world.
Those working in the windowless environment had very little exposure to natural daylight, while those working in the windowed offices had a lot more natural light.
Of those tested, the workers who spent long hours in windowless environments slept more poorly than those who worked near windows and natural light.
According to Mohamed Boubekri, professor of architecture at the University of Illinois,
“Workers in workplaces with windows not only had significantly more light exposure during work hours but also slept an average of 46 minutes more per night during the workweek than workers in workplaces without windows.”
While the study was conducted for architectural purposes, the results of the study show one simple fact: spend more time in the natural daylight, and you’ll sleep a whole lot better at night!
How Natural Daylight Helps You Sleep
How could something as simple as natural daylight versus artificial daylight help to improve the quality of your sleep?
A lot of it has to do with your body’s natural production of melatonin, a chemical that helps you to sleep. During the day (bright light), your body’s production of melatonin decreases. Once the sun sets (dim to no light), the melatonin production increases. Melatonin is a relaxing chemical, one that makes you feel drowsy and sleepy. Production of melatonin increases through the night, peaking at the time when you are in the deepest sleep.
But when you spend most of your time indoors with no natural light, there is no way for your body to know how much melatonin to produce. Artificial light keeps the production of melatonin high, stopping you from sleeping and feeling drowsy. That’s why people working in windowless environments get poor quality sleep than those who work near windows.
Bonus: To improve sleep further, stay FAR AWAY from bright artificial lights in the evening. This means that you should keep your TV, computer, and smartphone turned off, as the produce white light that fools your body into thinking that it should be awake. Stick with soft yellow light in the evenings, and you’ll have no problem nodding off when bedtime rolls around!