Increase Daytime Light Exposure for Better Sleep at Night

SunlightNatural light is something that you wouldn’t think of when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep but that is exactly one of the important factors to help you sleep better.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine focused on the importance of exposure to natural light for office workers. The study found that workers in environments with windows not only had significantly more light exposure during work hours but also slept an average of 46 minutes more per night during the workweek than workers in environments without windows. Workers without windows also reported more sleep disturbances and poorer quality of sleep.

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day – particularly in the morning –  is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism,” said senior study author Phyllis Zee, MD, a Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist. “Workers are a group at risk because they are typically indoors often without access to natural or even artificial bright light for the entire day. The study results confirm that light during the natural daylight hours has powerful effects on health.”

As the study suggests and many of you who suffer from lack of natural light may know, the lack of natural light exposure during work hours can have negative effects on your health. Insufficient sleep and reduced sleep quality have been associated with several medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, mood disorders, memory loss, and bone loss. Not getting enough sleep can even cause death if the problem is severe and left untreated.

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your health and well-being. Exposure to natural light affects your circadian biological clock. The circadian rhythm regulates the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. The sleepiness we experience during the circadian dips will be less intense if we have had sufficient sleep and more intense when we are sleep deprived.

To improve your sleep and increase your exposure to natural light, take regular outdoor breaks during the day, especially if your office lacks windows.

Best Sleep Position for Your Body

  1. On Your Back. Sleeping on your back allows your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position and helps ward off acid reflux.
  2. On Your Side. This position wards off back and neck pain and acid reflux as long as your torso and legs are relatively straight. Sleeping on your side is also the best position for those with sleep apnea because it keeps your airways open.
  3. Fetal Position. This is the most popular sleeping position. It’s great if you’re pregnant or if you snore as long as your torso is hunched and knees are bent but not too much to where you’re restricting breathing in your diaphragm.
  4. On Your Stomach. Sleeping on your stomach definitely eases snoring but it’s bad for everything else. It can cause back and neck pain and puts pressure on your muscles and joints.

Trouble sleeping? Call (513) 475-UC4U to schedule an appointment with Victoria Surdulescu, MD.

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