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Want to sleep better? Get the right light at the right time!

A summary of an interview from the NSWO with Marijke Gordijn


If you want to enhance your sleep quality, the balance between light and dark plays a pivotal role in achieving this. Immerse yourself in more light during the day and embrace more darkness in the evening.


International scientists, advocate for increased light exposure, around five times more than typical indoor levels, during daytime hours. Additionally, exposure to evening light should be reduced, around five times less than current levels. This is essential for optimal sleep and overall well-being.


Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash


Excessive evening light communicates to your body that it's still daytime, which delays sleep and disrupts your internal clock. This conflict shifts your sleeping patterns, making you a later sleeper the subsequent day.


Melatonin, which prepares your body for sleep, is suppressed by abundant evening lights, especially blue light found in many light sources including LED lights. LED bulbs can be dimmed and chosen in warmer tones to reduce their impact on your sleep.

Unfortunately, the importance of light is not often realized. More daylight is needed to align your biological clock and to reduce your sensitivity to evening light.


We suggest to implement these practical tips in your daily routine:


Get Morning Light.

If you struggle to fall asleep at your preferred time or wake up on time, aim for at least 30 minutes of morning daylight, preferably outdoors. If outdoors is not an option, sit within one meter of a window.


Get Daylight.

Seek at least 2 hours of daylight or natural window light during the day. If natural light is scarce, optimize your workspace with quality electric light that mimics daylight.


Dim Evening Light.

Dim your lights 3 hours before bedtime, maintaining just enough light to read comfortably.


Every 20 minutes of screen time, pause and look outside a window for 20 seconds, aiming for a total of 2 hours of daylight exposure daily.


For those wishing for better sleep and a healthier life, adjusting the amount and type of light you are exposed to is a step forward in improving your well-being and alertness during the day.


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