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Beating Light Pollution

15-06-2010

Light pollution is one of the most common disturbers of sleep, and its powerful physiological effects also make it one of the most frustrating whenever experienced. In short, the body is designed to be awake and alert when it experiences light, so to try and get to sleep when there is light pollution in the bedroom is somewhat fighting against a natural urge. Whether it is early morning or evening sunlight, artificial light from nearby streetlamps or traffic, all types of light have the potential to interfere with sleep.

Thankfully, the ways in which you can prevent light pollution harming your sleep quality are many and varied.

Curtains and blinds are of course the first way to combat light pollution, and there is a wide selection of ‘black out’ options to shroud the bedroom in near total darkness. Ranging from inexpensive linings to complex edged blinds, these solutions provide more protection against light than average curtains or blinds can, so are worth investing in if you have a particular issue with light pollution in your bedroom.

When you haven’t got control of the light environment in the same way as your own bedroom, perhaps in a hotel room or even when travelling, a simple eye-mask can bring instant darkness, if not sartorial elegance.

Most people need a light of some description to get to and from the bedroom at night, therefore the choice of lights in the bedroom is a crucial decision to avoiding the effects of light pollution. Low voltage downlighters are a good choice for any bedroom, as they emit dull but perfectly usable light when needed, without flooding the room with stimulating brightness.

Electronic items often create an unexpectedly strong source of light when switched off – that pin-point stand-by light that is virtually invisible during the day can often act like a veritable beacon in a dark room. Alarm clocks can provide a similarly dominating glow.

Light pollution doesn’t just affect the body in the bedroom – any particularly bright lights experienced in the late evening prior to bedtime (perhaps from a TV or computer) artificially stimulate the body and encourage alertness, in a process that can take some time to recover from. Avoiding these types of lights in the run-up to bedtime will prevent this unnecessary wakefulness.

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