With the holiday season officially upon us as of today, many homes will be aglow with twinkling Christmas lights. However, did you know certain Christmas lights can negatively impact your sleep?
Dr Katherine Hall, the resident sleep psychologist at Happy Beds, has written a ground-breaking guide in which she reveals the fascinating connection between Christmas lights and sleep, exposing the best and worst choices for a rejuvenating slumber.
In the guide, Dr Hall reveals how specific Christmas lights can adversely impact your sleep, stating, “Being exposed to intense, bright, or flashing lights before bedtime is a sleep hygiene faux pas. The dazzling lights we all love during the Christmas season send the wrong signal to your brain, disrupting melatonin production and hindering your sleep-wake cycle.”
What type of Christmas lights are the worst contenders for sleep?
- Blue lights: “Blue light exposure in the evening has been linked to further suppression of melatonin and interference with your circadian rhythm.” Blue light is often found in artificial lights, particularly phones and LED lights, due to its stimulating effect, which causes alertness and, therefore, negatively impacts your sleep cycle.
- Multi-coloured lights: While visually appealing, these lights emit a spectrum of colours that may disrupt melatonin regulation. Dr Hall notes, “It’s like having a mini-light show before bedtime; charming but not conducive to a restful night’s sleep.”
- Flashing lights: “Similarly, flashing lights create heightened visual stimulation, hindering your ability to switch off at night.”
Turn off these disruptive lights at least 2 hours before bedtime
Dr Hall recommends a simple change with significant impact: “Allow melatonin production to follow its natural circadian rhythm by turning off blue, multi-coloured, or flashing lights two hours before bedtime. This promotes a smoother transition to sleep and enhances overall sleep quality.”
Embrace the sleep-friendly alternatives
Alternatively, Dr Hall suggests picking Christmas lights with a warmer tone: “Opting for lights in a single, warm colour, such as red or warm white, offers a gentler and more soothing glow, aligning better to promote relaxation and better sleep quality.
“Many studies show that red light enhances sleep quality, facilitating quicker and more restful sleep. Warm white lights emit a softer, less stimulating glow than bright white or blue, contributing to a restful night’s sleep.”
This has been backed up by a study in 2012, that found that athletes who received red light therapy had improved sleep quality and better melatonin levels. As well as this, another study found that those who were exposed to red light experienced less sleep inertia, or, in other words, were less groggy in the morning.