Sleep: Here’s Why We All Love It and Need It for Optimal Health
Sleep, we all love it and we all need it (whether those kids believe it or not!).
Many physiological things occur for sleep to happen; therefore, its best to begin with a brief lesson in the physiology of sleep. Don’t fret as I will make it very simple and straightforward.
Here’s what happens when we sleep
Located near the center of the brain, a tiny pearl-shaped endocrine (hormone) gland resides. This gland is called the pineal gland and it spends some of its time releasing a hormone called melatonin.
This hormone affects the modulation of wake-sleep patterns. The regulation of melatonin synthesis which is a very important component of sleep. As with most endocrine pathways, a series of events occur for the desirable outcome.
This is what occurs:
- Light or darkness is sensed by the retina of the eye
- It is relayed to the hypothalamus by the nervous system
- The hypothalamus communicates with the pineal gland
Depending on whether it is light or dark, the pineal gland will respond appropriately. If the retina senses darkness, the pineal gland will be stimulated to make and release melatonin. On the other hand, if a light is sensed, the pineal gland will not be stimulated by the hypothalamus to produce melatonin.
And this is the one issue for people with insomnia.
A little pineal history: The pineal gland is only somewhat understood and therefore a little bit of a mystery gland. Way back in the 1600s, a french philosopher and writer believed the pineal gland was the “seat of the soul,” as he believed it was where all thoughts were formed. The pineal gland has also been referred to as the “third eye.” This is perhaps due to its ability to sense light.
How blue light interferes with your sleep
At night, we typically have a lot of screen time. We are either watching TV, playing video games, and checking and replying to emails. When we do this, cortisol is consistently being secreted which is a hormone that has many jobs but one is keeping us awake. High cortisol acts like a bully to melatonin, and because of that, melatonin doesn’t get released.
With the digital age at its pinnacle, our blue light exposure tends to increase during the day and extend after sunset. Imagine the sun shining constantly. Not that great a thought. But that is essentially what we’re doing while our screens demand our full attention.
While the most logical solution is to limit the blue light exposure before bed (aka break ties with our digital devices at night), it’s not always possible. Some people prefer to wind down with their favorite reruns after a busy workday. Others use quiet nights to focus on work. Consequently, the chance of sleep deprivation dramatically increases.
The next possible solution is to enable blue light filtering apps, but it’s not as effective as previously thought. Which brings me to the best and most effective solution there is — Night Swannies Blue Light Blocking Glasses — specially formulated orange-tinted lenses that block nearly 100% of blue light between 400-500nm (blue light between 450-480nm has been shown to suppress the production of the vital sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin).
Ideally, Night Swannies should be worn continuously at least 1-2 hours before bedtime along with these powerful ways to hack your sleep.
What can you do?
- Dim lights in the evening.
- The body likes a routine so strive for a consistent sleep and wake-up schedule
- Make your room as dark as possible. Consider blackout curtains or wear an eye mask at night.
- Limit TV, phone, WiFi and computer time one hour before bed. This is due to Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF) that are emitted by our electronic devices. EMF has been classified by the World Health Organization as a potential carcinogen. You can read more here.
- Get yourself a pair of blue light glasses to block excessive blue light emitted by electronics, including your digital devices and light bulbs to help activate the sleep hormone, melatonin.
- Download this application for your computer screen to automatically regulate the blue light that is being emitted from your computer screen.
- Turn on “Night Shift” if you have an iPhone or download “Twilight” for your Android phone.
Stress and lifestyle also play a large role in sleep. Exercising every day and finding positive ways to reduce and relieve stress can make a profound difference in falling and staying asleep.
Ready to hack your way to better sleep?
Start with a pair of Night Swannies Blue Light Blocking Glasses.