How a Sleep Light Helps You Fall Asleep
What is a Sleep Light?
A sleep light is a technologically advanced light bulb that filters out the blue end of the light spectrum, leaving a glow that resembles a sunset. Many kinds of sleep light are also programmed to slowly fade out at the same speed as a sunset. The combination of blue light filter and slow fade means your body naturally responds with a gentle slide into restful sleep.
There are several kinds of sleep light available commercially. One of these is the Drift bulb, which combines some of the best features of the other models. This bulb is one of the better-rated models, and includes the feature that automatically fades out at the same rate as a sunset.
Sleep lights are just one way to find better and more healthy sleep. White noise machines, supplements, and bed-time rituals such as wind-down periods and reduction of bedroom screen time can also make a huge difference. I hope that my own struggles with insomnia and my personal experience with solutions will help other people who want nothing more than to simply get a good night's sleep.
A Light Bulb Can Make a Big Difference
The benefits of getting enough sleep have been well documented in study after study. Especially for those of us who are new parents or simply trying to balance work, family, and personal care, sleep is an often-overlooked pillar of a good life. My own experience with insomnia began as a new parent, when I found myself struggling through daily work due to repeated nights of being pulled out of bed by a crying infant. As the kids grew up the nightly demands abated, but I was left with chronic amnesia that didn't go away. Over time, I found ways to adjust, from relaxation techniques to simple products like a good white noise machine. In addition to this excellent gadget, I also discovered the effectiveness of a high-quality sleep light.
For such a small, affordable little gadget, sleep lights can have a major impact on quality of life. Being able to "bring the sunset inside" and have it start at any time you decide allows you to fall asleep more easily. Sleeping is essential to virtually every aspect of health and happiness, and paying attention to the lighting in the room when you go to bed is surprisingly important. The difference in how you feel is amazing, but even more important is the difference sleep makes in your ability to function.
Lack of Sleep Can Cause Accidents
There have been several studies that connect lack of sleep to increased chance that you'll get into an accident. Better sleep benefits you by keeping you alert throughout the day. We're not talking about dodging falling pianos -- the accidents that threaten sleep-deprived people are avoidable mishaps like falling asleep at the wheel. Sleep deprivation can make you as dangerous behind the wheel as a drunk driver, and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S.
Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, and Chrenobyl
Each of these global disasters may have had an element of sleep deprivation as a cause, according to studies cited on WebMD. In each case, human error was involved, and in each case the people who were in control had been asked to stay awake for longer periods of time than is healthy.
Sleep Loss Hurts Intellectual Performance
Students pulling an all-nighter to study for a big exam may be unwittingly doing the worst thing possible for their grades. According to studies published by the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for doing well on cognitive tests. Lack of sleep hurts your ability to focus, as well as recall and stamina. Getting your full 8 hours is essential, and the benefits of a good sleep aid are wide-ranging.
Health Issues Caused by Lack of Sleep
According to many studies, sleep deprivation can put you at risk for all kinds of serious health problems. A short list of these threats to your health looks like a who's who of heavy hitters: heart attack, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. And these are just the physical manifestations of not getting enough rest -- there are also serious psychological consequences.
Lack of Sleep and Depression
Evidence from the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, suggests that chronic sleep deprivation may result in symptoms consistent with depression, and is linked to anxiety disorders. There's more evidence from a 2005 Sleep in America poll, which showed that people diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night. Insomnia is strongly linked to depression.
As If That Weren't Enough, Insomnia is Linked to Obesity
Sleep better and lose weight? That's basically the best of both worlds, and they may be intertwined. Losing sleep is related to both hunger appetite increase and lack of satiety responese in the brain, leading you to eat more on days when you haven't slept well.
According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were much more likely to become obese than those who got the recommended amount of sleep. Evidence from a study by Dr. Allison T. Siebern at the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center, supports the causal link between sleep and weight gain. According to the study, increases in the hormone that stimulates hunger is associated with shortened sleep time.
Eliminate Blue Light for Better Sleep
According to the Harvard Medical School Health Letter of September 2, 2015, light has a huge effect on your sleep. It turns out that what you may have suspected is right -- the color and intensity of the light you're exposed to before bed can have a serious effect on how well you sleep. For those of us who spend the evening hours in front of the TV, or peering into the bright blue light of a computer screen, this is bad news. Do we need to change our habits drastically in order to fall asleep and stay asleep? Well, maybe.
According the Harvard Health Letter, "while light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours)."
What does this mean for you? Well, it means we need to find you some mellow, non-blue light to have in your room as you get ready for bed. Fortunately, the Drift light provides exactly this kind of non-blue light. As a sleep aid, this light bulb is simple, requires little to no work, and is surprisingly effective.
Don't think that we can get around this issue by just dimming the lights. Blue light is so disruptive that even a relatively low-level glow can wreck your sleep plans. According to noted Harvard sleep researcher Stephen Lockley, even dim light can interfere with your natural sleep/wake rhythms. As little as 8 lux, which is about the same brightness as a night light, much less than virtually every light in your home, messes up your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. Lockley found that night lighting is part of the reason so many people don't get enough sleep.
Automatically Dimming, Non-Blue Light
One of the coolest things about the Drift Bulb is the way it slowly, almost imperceptibly, dims over time to mimic a setting sun. Your prehistoric brain responds to this whether you want it to or not, and the result is a natural tendency to yawning and falling asleep. Add to that the fact that the light filters out the blue range of the spectrum, and you have a great little sleep aid.
It Works Automatically
Above all, I needed a sleep aid that I didn't have to mess with or think about. The Drift light bulb could not be easier -- just turn it on like any other light before you want to go to bed. the light bulb takes it from there, slowly turning its soothing light down until it's dark. For me, this mimics a sunset. The result is a better night's sleep.
In Summary -- Sleep, Light, and an Easy Fix
Dozens, if not hundreds, of studies have linked chronic lack of sleep with everything from obesity to death from a traffic accident. Of all the drawbacks of our modern, demanding world, loss of sleep may be the most damaging, and yet it may also be the most unnoticed. Sleep deprivation, despite all the suffering it causes, seldom makes headlines the way addiction, violence, or even stress does. And yet we all suffer to some degree, at least on occasion. The Drift bulb is a simple, affordable, automatic way to fall asleep when you want to. The benefits to my own life of using this cool little gadget were immediate and powerful.