As A Light Sleeper Who Is Always Tired, I Asked Experts For Help
Like many people, Fabiana Buontempo feels she never gets the sleep she needs, and she wakes up the next morning feeling tired. Now, Buontempo
is on a mission to improve her quality of sleep. Buontempo says she is a light sleeper and the least little noise, whether it’s the wind blowing or her dog moving near her, will wake her up.
Frustrated over her lack of sleep, Buontempo decided to research her problem and enlist the help of sleep experts Dr. Rebecca Robbins, Dr. Carleara Weiss, and Dr. Olivia Audrey to find a solution. Buontempo outlined the tips in an article written for Buzzfeed, a news and entertainment website. The tips included:
1. Expose yourself to morning daylight
Getting sunlight or bright indoor light during the morning helps your circadian rhythm, more commonly known as the body’s internal clock. A 2017 study of office workers found that those who were exposed to daylight light during the morning hours not only slept better at night but tended to be less depressed and stressed than those who did not get much morning light.
Dr. Weiss, an adult-geriatric nurse specialist who also focuses on behavioral sleep medicine and circadian rhythms, explained that our biological clock uses light and other events to determine the time of day and “set the stage for metabolism, sleep, and other functions.” In addition, Dr. Weiss says that exposure to daylight helps train our bodies and minds to know that when it’s dark out, it’s time for sleep.
2. Taking CBD Night Gummies or Melatonin
Studies have found that Cannabidiol (CBD) night gummies help people with sleep disorders. CBD is an active ingredient in cannabis and is used as a natural remedy for many ailments. Some CBD night gummies are combined with melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Melatonin supplements are often used to treat insomnia.
While CBD gummies and melatonin supplements might help you sleep better, Dr. Weiss says that these supplements should not be taken daily, but sporadically. What’s more, the ideal dose of melatonin ranges from 0.3–5mg.
Because CBD night gummies and other CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sleep experts recommend talking to your doctor before taking any CBD products. Dr. Weiss says that taking non-regulated FDA products can compromise your health.
3. Wear yellow-tinted glasses before bed to block out the blue light from your electronics.
According to Dr. Audrey, a naturopathic doctor, excessive blue light from TV, phones, and laptops not only prevents people from “fully decompressing,” but it also affects the entire circadian rhythm.
“Studies have shown that blue light exposure blocks the body’s ability to produce melatonin, an essential hormone involved in sleep regulation,” Dr. Audrey said.
4. Use a white noise app or machine to block out outside sounds
White noise is a combination of different sounds at all frequencies audible to the human ear. Researchers say that environmental noise, like a door slamming, a dog barking, or the whirl of an air conditioner, can stop you from sleeping, especially if you are a light sleeper. White noise machines and noise apps are used to block out these sounds to help people sleep. The apps can be downloaded on phones and are also found on websites and videos.
5. Sleep in a dark room
Darken your room by covering the windows, wearing an eye mask, turning off the night light, and putting away all electronics. According to Dr. Robbins, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and sleep scientist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, our eyelids are among “the thinnest pieces of skin on our bodies so it’s important to make sure the bedroom is completely dark, as any source of light can really interfere with our ability to fall asleep.”
Of these five tips, Buontempo said taking a walk and exposing herself to sunlight first thing in the morning, taking a CBD supplement, and listening to white noise were the best methods that helped her get quality sleep and feel well-rested the next day.
Researchers Recommend Lights That Best Support Sleep
An international group of researchers explored how to properly measure the impact different types of indoor light might influence body rhythms, daily patterns of sleep, and wakefulness.
After analyzing data from numerous studies and using a newly developed scale that measures light exposure, the scientists developed recommendations for healthy daytime, evening, and nighttime light exposure.
The recommendations were published in the journal PLOS Biology in March. According to the scientists:
- • Daylight should be the first option for getting light exposure. This is the type of light seen during sunrise or sunset on a cloudy day. A cooler white LED light is the next best option.
- • In the evening, beginning about three hours before bedtime, light levels should come down drastically—especially blue light.
- • While sleeping, the room should be as dark as possible. However, Dr. Ivy C. Mason, a research fellow in the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Harvard University and the study’s author, said if a light is needed for safety at night, try to keep it pointed toward the floor and not at eye level.
According to Timothy M. Brown, a faculty member at the Centre for Biological Timing at the University of Manchester and one of the scientists in the study, the recommendations “provide the first scientific consensus, quantitative, guidance for appropriate daily patterns of light exposure to support healthy body rhythms, nighttime sleep, and daytime alertness.”
“This now provides a clear framework to inform how we light any interior space, ranging from workplaces, educational establishments, and healthcare facilities to our own homes,” Brown said in a press release.
Still Can’t Sleep? Try this
If you have trouble sleeping, sleep experts have a few more recommendations besides managing light. Dr. Weiss advises maintaining a temperature around 65–67F “to optimize your sleep experience.”
According to the Sleep Foundation, the human body is programmed to experience a slight dip in core temperature in the evening. So, turning the thermostat down at night may help with temperature regulation and signal to your body that it’s time for bed.
If you’re one who tosses and turns in the middle of the night, Dr. Robbins suggests getting out of bed and doing something relaxing such as reading a book, meditating, or breathing exercises. Then, go back to bed when you are tired.
“This will help relax the mind and body again to get back into sleep mode,” she said.