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Why You Can't Get Good Sleep - The Single Most Important Factor Preventing you from Getting Better Sleep

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By Edited Sep 24, 2016 3 5

People often overlook the most important factor that affects the quality of their sleep.  Let's cut to the chase; the single best tip to getting a better night's sleep is really by staying away from light sources.

Light affects life.  Simple as that.  Light energizes and the absense of it signals that it's time to hit the hay.  More importantly, our bodies and our eyes have evolved to respond to signals in the spectrum of light that tells our body when it's time to wake up and when it's time for bed.

Some colours of the rainbow enhance sleep and some affect it adversely.

The general rule of thumb is this: BLUE LIGHT IS BAD LIGHT (for sleeping).

 

Living in the Dark

Armed with the knowledge that blue light is the culprit, we can do a few things to improve our sleep.  There are many tips out there advocating that you "turn off your tv or devices", but that to me is like telling you to live in the dark ages again (figuratively and literally).  It's not practical or realistic in our day and age where so many of us use computers and computing devices at all hours of the day for work and play.  So there must be a better way to have our cake and eat it too.

Seeing the Light
Credit: E. Ting

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Besides abstaining from light, what can we do?

What I've found is that there are a few things we can do to passively block out the BLUE spectrum.   If we are on our devices at night, we can block out the light by programming our computers to filter out that light.  Sound easy?  No, it doesn't involve you buying a piece of plastic to put over your screen or funny looking goggles to shield you.  Luckily for us, there are a few people out there who has solved the problem for us via specialized (and free to use) software.  The software just tells the computer that when the sun goes down, so does the BLUE spectrum of light.

There are several software applications that can do this filter.  Of the ones out there though, I personally use F.lux.  Its available for Windows, Mac OS-X and Linux users.  There is also an option for iPhone and iPad, but this requires a bit of tweaking (see F.lux for iOS).

I've tried F.lux and it works so well.  You don't even notice it's there.  Try it for yourself and feel better. 

A Dark Room

Besides ensuring your pre-bedtime computer use is blue-light tight, what also helps a great deal is to keep out the sunlight in the first place.  What has worked for me is by getting BlackOut Curtains.  They work wonders because they completely block out any light to ensure that your light remains dark in the morning until you pull them back.

Give these two ideas a try!  They've really been very helpful to me in getting better sleep naturally.  Leave a comment if you have had any success!  Sweet dreams!

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Comments

May 28, 2013 3:06am
iamsy
Great article, very informative. I didn't know there was software that could filter light from your computer. I spend a lot of time in front of my PC (and my sleeping hours are weird) so I'm going to get that. Thanks for sharing!
May 28, 2013 4:06am
affordancedesigns
Thanks iamsy! Really appreciate your supportive words and for reading!

Light really affects how we sleep as we've been biologically predisposed to light as a signal to our body when it's time to wake up and when its time to sleep. F.Lux really helped me on this level, so please give it a try and comment and let us know your experience with it.
May 29, 2013 8:14am
iamsy
Hey, I'm using it right now and it's made my screen orange-y. Not sure if it's working or just the placebo effect but it's making me kind of yawny. Will try it out for a while and report back!
May 29, 2013 10:29am
affordancedesigns
Hi Imasy,

THe Orange-y affect is because your eyes are not used to the lack of blue in the spectrum of light coming from your screen. This is normal. The blue spectrum of the light is what signals to the body that it's time ot wake up, not sleep, so taking it out helps to improve your chances of sleeping better.

What I've found with F.Lux is that after a while, your eyes adjust to the screen and it doesn't appear orange-y or red anymore. Your eyes adapt to it and it'll just appear white/normal to you.

Good on you for giving it a try! Tell us your experience!!!
Jun 29, 2013 6:19pm
iamsy
Oh! I didn't know that. I've been using it since I last posted and I find that I keep switching the thing off after a while because I couldn't stand the orange >.< This is when I have stuff to do and want to keep working on the computer. I probably need to ban myself from the computer at night.

The few times that I didn't switch it off, I think it helped because it makes me not want to work on the computer anymore/yawny.

Thank you so much for the info, I think I'm gonna keep using F.Lux (and switch it off less too :x)!
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