The secret to a better night’s sleep has been revealed. And it could be as simple as brushing your teeth in the dark, an Oxford neuroscientist has claimed.
Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University in the UK, claims that the bright fluorescent bathroom lights wake the body up at the time it should be winding down.
“Sleep is the single most important behaviour that we do. Across our lifespans 36 percent of our life will be spent sleeping,” said Foster, as reported by Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph.
“Often people will turn their lights down at night which helps to get the body ready for sleep, but then they will go and brush their teeth and turn their bathroom light on. That is very disrupting. I often think someone should invent a bathroom mirror light which has a different setting for night-time.”
How light affects our ability to get a good night’s sleep
Our bodies are equipped with a natural clock called the circadian rhythm, and is primarily influenced by light levels. It tells our bodies when to sleep and wake up, adjusts body temperature, releases hormones, and other vital functions.
Getting enough sleep is vitally important to our bodies. During sleep, the body’s tissues are repaired, cognition is improved, immunity gets boosted, and the risk of obesity, cancer and mental illness is reduced.
When you expose yourself to bright artificial lighting just before you go to bed, you’re effectively telling your body it’s time to wake up rather than relax.
“We have this master clock ticking on the brain and each individual cells have their own little clock, so it’s rather like the conductor of an orchestra producing a signal which the rest of the body takes a cue from,” explained Foster. “There is a beautiful symphony of rhythms. “But we live in these dimly-lit caves, both at home and in our offices, which are far less bright than natural light, even on a cloudy day.”
Solution for better sleep
The solution for a better night’s sleep begins in the morning. According to Foster, “it is so important to get outside, particularly in the morning to reset the body clock.” In other words, aim to safely get exposure to natural sunlight at peak hours and then dim your lights if you can at the end of the day. Limit use of glowing electronics like smart phones and tablets, and avoid drinking stimulants like coffee right before bedtime.
And finally, try brushing your teeth in the dark. You just might find it works great for you.
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants.