This is post six in a six week program aimed at curing your insomnia, not just treating it.
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Turn Off The TV
Our daily sleep cycles are driven mostly by a hormone called melatonin. It’s created by the pineal gland in your brain, and its production is brought on by darkness. The manufacture of this hormone is stopped by light. This is generally why we get sleepy and go to bed at night and get up with the sunlight in the morning.
This hormone evolved over millions of years, and all other mammals as well as many other plants and animals possess it. Melatonin is used as a driver for things as disparate as sleep, camouflage coloring, reproduction and root growth. The cue of the sun and the length of the day manipulate melatonin production and seasonal behaviour in all of us (ever been depressed in winter?).
When mankind first introduced light into the night, it was fire. And then it was a candle and then a lamp – again based on fire.
Then Edison invented the light bulb, and the world was never the same. Neither was our sleep. Our days were no longer driven by sunlight and darkness, and as we introduced artificial light into our environment, our melatonin production got all screwed up.
To gain back what we lost more than a century ago, we have to remember what night-time was supposed to be – dark.
In order to help out your natural melatonin production you have to:
- Turn off the TV, the computer, the tablet, and the smart-phone at least an hour before going to bed. Basically don’t use any device that has a back-light (an older style, black and white eBook reader should be OK – but not colour!). These devices should never be in your bedroom.
- Turn down or turn off the lights in your house during the evening. Try to maintain a slow ramp to darkness – simulating the natural day as best you can.
- If reading before bed comforts you, try a low-powered focused lamp on the page. Make it so the only brightly illuminated area is the book itself, everywhere else is dimmed.
- If you have to use a computer later at night (not within an hour of bedtime!), get a program called F.lux. It will dim your screen for you as the night wears on.
The basic idea is to have as little light as possible get into your eyes later in the evening. TV’s, smartphones and eReaders are our repeat offenders.
What Is A Lux?
For your reference, we use a measure called “lux” for light intensity. Here are some light intensities – you can see how sitting fireside a few thousand years ago, or reading with a candle a couple of centuries ago, didn’t really impact light that much:
- Full Moon Overhead = 0.25 lux
- Candle = About 1 lux
- Average Living Room at Night = 50 lux
- Overcast Day = 1000 lux
- Daylight = 20,000 lux
- Direct Sunlight = Up To 130,000 lux
Step 6 is to turn off excess light.
See you in four days with Step Seven…