We hear a lot about the effects of light on sleep. Light in the evening—especially the blue light emitted by devices with screens—blocks secretion of the hormone melatonin, causing symptoms of insomnia. Low lighting during the day also delays melatonin onset and shortens the night.
Shift work, in which workers are routinely are exposed to light at night and must sleep during daylight hours, is so likely to disturb people’s sleep that the problem has its own name: Shift Work Sleep Disorder.
Not only do unnatural lighting conditions interfere with sleep. More and more evidence suggests that artificial lighting is behind the uptick in modern diseases such as cancer.
Looking for a gift for a problem sleeper (or are you browsing for sleep-friendly products yourself)? Last year’s holiday gift blog was so popular that I decided to post a similar blog this year.
Most of these items are fairly inexpensive and all can be purchased online. They may be helpful for people with insomnia and other sleep problems. If nothing else they’ll make for comfier nights.
Blue light gets a bad rap these days in articles about sleepy teens. Exposure to blue light in the evening interferes with the secretion of melatonin (a sleep-friendly hormone), pushing circadian rhythms out of whack. This can lead to insomnia or sleep deprivation. Doctors are counseling teens and the rest of us to turn off devices that emit blue light—computers, tablets, and smartphones—in the run-up to bedtime.
This is sound advice as far as it goes. But the story on light is bigger than this simple warning suggests. Knowing how to manage your exposure to blue light can help you steer clear of sleep problems and increase your daytime stamina.
Off to college soon (or know of someone who is)? You’re probably looking forward to interesting classes, good friends, and the freedom to live away from the prying eyes of Mom and Dad. Heady prospects, all three! But you’ll also face some challenges. Getting enough sleep may be one.
But college life doesn’t have to be disruptive to sleep. By planning ahead, you can get the sleep you need whether you’re inclined to get up early or burn the midnight oil. Here’s what you can to do get a better night’s sleep away from home.
“Tart cherry juice is supposed to help with sleep,” a reader wrote to Ask The Savvy Insomniac a few days ago. “But is there any real evidence for this? Usually I don’t pay much attention to these claims. I assume they’re made by industries hyping their products. Anyway, if certain foods COULD help control insomnia, wouldn’t we know that by now?”
A few studies do suggest that tart cherry juice may be helpful to people with insomnia.
Does your sleep problem involve waking up in the middle of the night once or several times and then trouble falling back to sleep? Sleep maintenance insomnia is actually the most common form of insomnia, and it’s more common as people age. Here’s a quick review of the possible causes and what can be done.
I’ve just heard of melatonin replacement therapy, a reader wrote last week to Ask The Savvy Insomniac, and I’m wondering if I should look into it. I’m 61. I never used to have problems with insomnia but now I wake up a lot at night. Over-the-counter melatonin does nothing for me. Is the melatonin used in replacement therapy somehow different?
Got ADHD? Chances are you’ve got insomnia symptoms, too. About 92 percent of the subjects in a recent study of adults with ADHD reported going to bed late because they were “not tired” or “too keyed up to sleep.”
The sleep problems of adults with ADHD may be due to delayed (and possibly less stable) circadian rhythms. If you’ve got ADHD-related insomnia, treatments aimed at advancing circadian phase may help.