The dark of the matter


In order to get a good night’s sleep, you need to sleep in complete darkness.  If there is a street light outside your window shining into your bedroom, you will sleep much better if you get light-blocking drapes. Use night lights with red bulbs so if you need to get up to go to the bathroom, you can do so without turning on the lights, which would result in the shutting down of your sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder to get the rest you need.  Our bodies are very sensitive to light, and any light shining on any part of our skin makes our body think it is morning, resulting in the hormone cortisol being released to help give us the energy we need to begin our day. This is not the best situation if it is 2 AM! So go to bed turning out the lights by 10h30pm at the latest, sleep dark and sleep well.

For more information on the effect of light and our sleep patterns, please enjoy the book Lights Out! by Formby & Wiley.

Chek, Paul; How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy! Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2004.


  1. Claudia said,

    March 2, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

    Verni, You have some great writing/articles on sleeping in total darkness which I agree with, but I think consideration/study needs to made to the fact that in nature, moonlight is a factor not being considered. The moon lights up the night for a significant part of the month in varying degrees so wouldn’t it be unnatural to sleep in total darkness EVERY night. Moonlight has important effects on our hormones as well. I think this area of light pollution has been strongly neglected and is getting the respected attention due it recently, but its still needs more research. Your thoughts would be appreciated.


  2. Vreni said,

    March 2, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

    Hi Claudia,

    I think you are bang on, and also there is the small issue of the north, where the Inuit spend many months with little or no darkness at all. Clearly melatonin can’t totally depend on complete darkness – it has its own circadian rhythm, but also it is clear that light and darkness play a role.

    And moonlight does not produce as much light as the lights we keep on in our living rooms. Don’t have all the answers, but I do think too much artificial light at night can create avoidable problems.


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