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Sleep disruption? Manage your light exposure

We are very happy to anounce our new Science Advisor: Inge Declercq. Below is a brief summary of her article in the VRT, a Belgian newspaper.

Sleep disruption and poor mental health have become a sad and seemingly inevitable part of our lives. The pandemic has duly fulfilled its role in amplifying these serious health issues. About one on five adults take on-prescription hypnotics and anti-depressants, the sale of over-the-counter sleep aids has raised up to 44% last two years, many of those containing melatonin. People seeking for help seem to want the miracle solution, despite of there being little scientific evidence that these drugs as stand-alone treatment have a sustainable effect on solving sleeping problems such as insomnia.

The good news is that a solution that is back-up by solid scientific evidence and without side-effects exists!

That sleep and mental health invariably come together needs no more debate. The one thing that nourishes this intertwined relationship is light. The right light at the right time, meaning bright light as from the morning and dim light in the evening. Let’s call it “Good Light”. “Good Light” is natural light, or indoor light mimicking natural light as much as possible. Because if your daily situation really hinders your possibility to catch bright daylight, then adapting your indoor light can be part of the solution. Always together with dimming your light exposure as from two hours before you go to bed. Because every time you light up your digital screens in the evening it is as if you take a drug that poisons your sleep and your mental health. Your brain needs the correct light signals that it catches through your eyes, to know when it’s time to activate your daytime energy, to nourish your health and to know when it’s time to sleep.

So, do you want to manage your health without taking drugs? It’s simple: manage your light exposure correctly!

Inge Declercq, MD, Neurologist, Sleep expert



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