How Low-Level Light During Sleep Can Increase Risk of Depression
Guest post: Sarah Cummings from Sleep Advisor
It’s not just common health issues, such as eating disorders that can have an effect on our health. You might not know it but going to bed of an evening and being exposed to the light of a night time, which includes even the very low levels, has officially been associated to an increased risk of depression.
The link between the two, which has recently been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, goes on to note that, in general, light during the night time is proven to unsettle our internal sleep/wake cycles.
The findings come as a particular concern, mainly due to something that we’re all guilty of these days; the ever-increasing numbers of people are using smartphones, tablets and laptops in bed, as well as leaving the TV turned on while they are asleep.
It’s important to delve into a vital factor in the link between low-level light and depression, and that is, of course, screen time. As we touched on previously, more of us are spending increased amounts of time staring at various types of screen, with the mobile phone high on the list. To be frank, you shouldn’t immediately be too hard on yourself, given that these modern times mean life is pretty much impossible to live in without the use of screens in some form or another.
This article was written using a screen, and you’re reading it on another form of screen too. But while using a screen to carry out tasks in the realms of one’s job, or to gain information, such as that in this article, there has to come a time when you’ve overdosed on your daily time in front of a screen and you need to take some time out.
What’s more, digital screens, the ones we use frequently, on a day-to-day basis, mean we are exposed to a blue light that’s emitted. The effects of this blue light on us are various. The main effect it that it prevents us from sleeping because blue light ‘overrides’ the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, potentially cancelling out its sleep-regulating properties.
Essentially, what you need to remember is that if you don’t give yourself the well-needed time away from screens, you’re likely to develop symptoms such as having a hyper-aroused nervous system, experiencing sensory overload, and suffering from a shortage of restorative sleep. This can lead to impulsive, moody behaviour, along with a shorter attention span.
Light at Night
When it comes to the link between low-level light and depression, it is essential to consider ways in which this can be counteracted, and even prevented.
You should start by being clued up on knowing whether or not your bed is the ideal one for you or not. This is something that the Sleep Advisor can help with. Once this has been established, you can move on to addressing light-related matters.
Ask yourself, when you slide under the sheets of a night time and the lights are off, does your bedroom suddenly become aglow with dim light from street lights outside, a bedside digital clock, or television? If the answer is yes, then you could well be leading yourself down a route that leads to depression.
You might not be aware that this is happening, but your screens can be having a detrimental effect on your mental health.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
Identifying depression in yourself, or someone else is not a cut and dry process. Symptoms aren’t identical in every case, and it’s these differences that can make it tricky to pinpoint signs of depression.
You should feel comfortable in the knowledge that, if you no longer feel like your normal self, that you should be able to seek help to rectify any irregularities in your overall well-being.
With this in mind, it’s the early intervention that can help you to overcome mental issues and experience full recovery. There are a whole host of signs to look out for, which include the following:
Physical signs of depression
· Waking early in the mornings
· Losing or gaining appetite
· General aches and pains
· Stomach ache and constipation
· Difficulty in falling asleep
· Alterations to menstrual cycle
Emotional signs of depression
· Deflated mood
· Reduced levels of self-esteem
· Suicidal thoughts
· Shortage of motivation
· No enjoyment in life
· Acting irritable
· Easily losing temper
So, to prevent some symptoms linked with depression, it’s important that you make necessary changes to your bedroom space. Changes, such as removing the TV and fitting darker/blackout curtains should be factored in. You should also think about having a cut off time for using your phone or tablet in the led up to bed; two hours is a general rule to abide by.