Researchers have been studying how light affects our sleep for a long time, but a recent study shows the importance of sleeping with little to no lights. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that finds a strong link between exposure to low levels of light while sleeping with symptoms of depression. Continue reading to learn why sleeping in a dark room may be better for your mental health.
First, it’s important to note that the study used an older group of test subjects, with the average age at about 70 years old. Data was collected from over 860 Japanese participants for over two years, to ensure the study was thorough. All 863 participants reported they had no depressive symptoms at the beginning of the trial.
Throughout the two years, each participant slept in rooms with ceiling-facing light devices attached to their headboards. The devices emitted different amounts of light “lux.” For reference, one lux is similar to a candle, while five lux is similar to a street light shining through a window.
More Light Results In Higher Levels Of Depression
Researchers found that those who were exposed to five lux of light of more experienced higher rates of depression after the two years. The 150 participants who were exposed to five lux of light or more showed a 65% increased chance of developing depression, compared to those who slept in dark rooms. While the participants were relatively old, the link between light and depression is the same throughout all ages. In fact, the study’s co-author, Professor Kenji Obayashi, says that younger generations are at a greater risk of light affecting their mental health, as they spend so much time on their phones or watching TV before bed.
The next time you think about leaving your TV on as you fall asleep, remember to at least put on a sleep timer so it won’t be on all night. Better yet, turn all devices off at least an hour before going to bed to relax your mind and prepare for sleep! Also, try blackout curtains or a quality sleep mask to ensure you’re sleeping in complete darkness.
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