Shedding Light on Depression The Right Kind of Light

Shedding Light on Depression The Right Kind of Light
Lighting up our homes in the evenings can also clinically darken our moods. A recent study in Japan showed a strong association between low-level light exposure at night and depressive symptoms in elderly adults. And while this experiment focused on the elderly, study co-author Kenji Obayashi warns that the effects might be even more pronounced among younger people, whose eyes are more sensitive and register more light. Simply falling asleep with the TV on or spending time online before bed can be enough to bring on depressive symptoms in a person of any age.
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With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to shut out as many light sources as possible before you turn in for the night, especially LED ones. The good news is that if you do experience some night-light-related depression, you can easily reverse the effects by changing your habits.
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The Right Kind of Light
Now before you throw out all of your night lights, consider this: not all light at night is bad for you. Blue light, the type of bright light that comes from natural sunlight and the LCD/LED screens of our electronic devices, can boost our attention, reaction times and moods during the day. But at night, it disrupts our biological clocks and makes our bodies think we should stay awake when all we need is sleep. Reddish or orangish lights, on the other hand, are the least likely to suppress melatonin production and interfere with sleep. Investing in a few dim, red night lights is one way to appease kids who are afraid of the dark.

5 years agoSleep Safely and Soundly

Leaving lights on at bedtime can lead to unsatisfying, disrupted sleep, not to mention all sorts of health risks. Keep these tips in mind to protect yourself from harmful blue light and to get better quality sleep.

Power down your electronics. Before you hit the pillow, turn your TV, laptop and phone to “night mode” and limit your use of other blue light, such as LEDs, at least an hour before bed. When your electronics are in “night mode,” they will have yellow screens instead of blue ones and won’t distract you before bedtime.
Healthy sleep equals stress-free sleep. Turn your bedroom into a worry-free zone right before you hit the hay. Since blue light disturbs sleep, keep your electronics away from you so you won’t be tempted to check anything in the middle of the night.
An app may be your answer. Can’t seem to break your habit of using electronics at night? Install an app to filter out the blue wavelengths for you.
Pure darkness is key. Set yourself up to sleep better by using blackout curtains and/or a sleep mask.
Dim the lights down low. Install dimmer switches so you can lower the lights at night to help your body prepare for sleep.
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While you want a dark bedroom for sleeping, waking up to light in the morning is actually a good thing. Exposure to natural light helps boost your mood and increase levels of energy and alertness, so open the curtains as soon as you’re up and at ’em!

If you wake up before the sun does, there are other types of light that are safe to use in the morning. Lower-wattage lightbulbs (between 45 and 50 watts) offer gentle light. Smart lightbulbs change color, and while you can program them to switch to yellow/amber lights to help you sleep at night, you can also have them change to brighter lights in the morning.

What if I Still Can’t Fall Asleep?
If you follow these tips and still have struggles sleeping, talk to your doctor to see if you have underlying issues, like a sleep disorder, that may need to be treated. They just might shine a light on the path to quality sleep.

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