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Are you in the dark about healthy sleep habits? You should be

May 5, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

"To sleep, perchance to dream." Wouldn't that be lovely? Unfortunately, about half of you -- 55% of women and 46% of men -- say you're light sleepers. Well, light sleeping problems, such as waking up many times a night, may be precisely that: sleep disturbances caused by excess light in your bedroom.

If you're one of the 70% of people with trouble sleeping who are "desperate to find a solution," research published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) may be able to shine a light on a solution for you. You need a darker bedroom at night.

Nighttime light disturbs your circadian rhythm, increases your heart rate, reduces REM and slow-wave sleep (needed for processing learning and motor skills and memory consolidation), and it boosts insulin resistance. That throws your immune system, gut biome and metabolic processes out of whack -- never good for restful sleep.

But a dark-enough bedroom can be a challenge if you live in an urban area where nighttime light is relentless, sleep with a night light or fall asleep with a bedside light or TV on, as 40% of folks do. The smart steps: If there is light in the room, from a night light, clock, etc., it should only emit red light (no white or blue); have the room dark enough so it isn't easy to see objects distinctly; and use and eye mask and blackout shades on windows if it's difficult to block out enough light.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow."

King Features Syndicate

Print Headline: Are you in the dark about healthy sleep habits? You should be


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