Having problems sleeping? This may be the problem
On any given night at least 55% of the U.S. Population experiences insomnia. For the majority it is brief, lasting only one or two nights and then it’s back to a normal sleep pattern. Up to 10% however, suffer from chornic insomnia. For these people, it could be weeks, months, or even years before they experience a good night's sleep.
There are a lot of reasons people may have one or more sleepless nights. Pain from injury or disease can certainly keep you awake, as can working the night shift, or drinking too many energy drinks. There may also be another phenomenon keeping people up at night—light pollution.
Thanks to street lamps, traffic lights, and our 24 hour schedules, it never truly gets dark outside in most cities. Light pollution isn’t just from the outside either. If you look around your bedroom you may see a lot of light sources. Alarm clocks show us the time with light. Smart watches blink on at the slightest movement, and night lights help show us the way to the bathroom, even when we're not going.
Light pollution is bad because it throws off our circadian rhythm, and burns away the chemicals in our brain that prepares us for sleep. There's not a lot you can do about external factors like living in a city, but if you are desparate for sleep there are a few things you can do.
Make your room friendly to sleep
If you live in a big city, this might mean getting some black out curtains to help make your sleeping area darker. When the lights are off, look around you and take note of the things producing light in your room. Dim alarm clocks, shut off night lights, and find somewhere else to charge your phone. An hour before bed time, step away from light producing screens and instead read, listen to music, or other relaxing activities.
If insomina constantly haunts you, make your next vacation plans an outdoorsy one. Studies show that camping in the country away from most light pollution can reset our circadian rhythms and help kick insomina to the curb.
Researchers in Colorado found a 7 day camping trip to be the most effective way to get rid of insomina. The results were unusual because camping was effective in treating the insomnia of every single participant, regardless of other factors. Very rarely do we see studies that have success to that degree, which goes to show you how strongly our bodies and sleep are linked to the sun's natural cycles.
While not everyone has the time to go camping for a week, even a weekend away can be beneficial, and the benefits can last for months.
Light pollution is a big problem for nearly everyone. If you live in the city and struggle to get quality sleep, it could be light that's causing the problem. The next time you turn off the lights, look around you, and see what may be to blame.
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