Your body has its own internal clock that helps you go to sleep and be awake during daylight hours. This natural rhythm is the circadian rhythm, and it is an important enabler of regular sleep.

A disruption to this rhythm can cause difficulties in getting sufficient sleep.

The trouble is that modern life does not shut down when it gets dark. We no longer live a life strictly connected to the cycle of night and day. Many of us have lives that require us to go to bed well after the sun has gone down. From shift workers, to students, to busy parents, to night owls - sleep patterns no longer conform to the cycle of night and day.

In a modern world we still need our sleep and experts will tell you, you need a good routine, avoid stimulants such as coffee, avoid alcohol and avoid computer screens. They will also recommend that you need a darkened space, and darker the better for sleep.

In fact, light can have a major impact on the quality of your sleep. Although you may be tied and asleep, your body is aware of any light present. That old circadian rhythm, working in the background gets its cues from any light exposure and then kicks in to do its job, which is to excite the mind and wake you up. We all know that feeling of wanting to sleep but just can’t. And that small bit of light coming in, seems to be blinding.

The loss of sleep due to light exposure, can overtime become a problem for achieving refreshing and plentiful sleep. Research shows lack of quality sleep has real consequences including, reduced reaction time, poor decision making, increased likelihood of diabetes and an increased risk of depression just to name a few side effects of poor sleep.

Research also shows us that one of the best things we can do for our health is get good regular sleep.

The Importance of a dark bedroom.

Work with your biology, not against it. We are designed to fall asleep when it is dark and to wake up when it is light.

When it’s dark our brain produces hormones called melatonin, which signal to our body that it’s ‘time to sleep’ which includes feeling lethargic, muscle relaxation, and a drop in body temperature. As it gets darker the levels of melatonin increase and continue to do so, peaking around 3:00 am. However, when your body perceives light your melatonin levels start to drop, waking you from sleep.

If the quality of your sleep gets affected by even a bit of light, then you run the risk of having sleeping issues. This is real and ongoing, particularly for shift workers but also for anyone who has broken sleep such as parents with young children, students or light sleepers.

If you sleep in a room where light makes its way in, you are fighting against your biology. Perhaps the most proactive and practical steps you can take is to blockout any light while you are asleep.

Having a pitch-black bedroom greatly reduces the potential for light interrupting your circadian rhythm, which helps you establish healthy sleep patterns and better health.