Street Lighting Affects Sleep - May 2016

By Pauline Anderson - March 11, 2016

It has long been suggested that excess light interferes with sleep, but now, researchers actually have "proof," said lead author Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, PhD, professor, psychiatry and behavioural sciences, Stanford University, and director, Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center, California.

Street lighting has had positive effects on the urban environment, such as improved security and safety because of fewer accidents, but it comes at a price, said Dr Ohayon. That cost, he said, is that the day is being extended and "there is no more night."

The consequences of this, he added, are that our internal biological clock or circadian rhythm gets out of sync. That clock is dependent on the secretion of melatonin, which normally occurs with natural darkness as night falls.

At the individual level, things like blackout curtains in the bedroom might improve sleep, as could eliminating light sources near the bed. The worst scenario for sleep is to "fall asleep on the sofa in the living room with all lights and monitors on," said Dr Ohayon. "That is guaranteed to destroy your next day." - Medscape online

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